Obama advisers host White House meeting on sexual assault in the military

Two Obama administration senior advisers hosted a bipartisan group of more than a dozen members of Congress Thursday to discuss how to address the alarming rise in sexual assault within U.S. military ranks.

Valerie Jarrett, among President Obama’s closest advisers, and Tina Tchen, first lady Michelle Obama’s chief of staff, called the meeting at the White House two days after the Pentagon reported a 35 percent rise in the number of military members victimized by sexual assault and related crimes over the past two years.

During a news conference the same day, Obama said,  “If we find out somebody’s engaging in this stuff, they’ve got to be held accountable, prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged — period.”

A White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the discussion Thursday was wide-ranging and candid. The guest list included male and female lawmakers from the House and Senate (see below.)

Jarrett serves as chairman of the White House Council on Women and Girls. Tchen is the council’s director.

“The meeting reflects the level of concern that you heard from the president the other day,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Air Force One.

From the White House, here is a list of those who attended:

Liz Sherwood-Randall     White House Coordinator for Defense Policy, National Security Staff

Kathryn Ruemmler, Counsel to the President

Miguel Rodriguez, Director, Office of Legislative Affairs

Lynn Rosenthal , White House Advisor on Violence Against Women

Senator Kelly Ayotte

Senator Susan Collins

Senator Deb Fischer

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

Senator Kay Hagan

Senator Amy Klobuchar

Senator Claire McCaskill

Senator Patty Murray

Senator Jeanne Shaheen

Representative Susan Davis

Representative Chellie Pingree

Representative Tim Ryan

Representative Jackie Speier

Representative Niki Tsongas

Representative Michael Turner

Representative Jackie Walorski

Scott Wilson is the chief White House correspondent for the Washington Post. Previously, he was the paper’s deputy Assistant Managing Editor/Foreign News after serving as a correspondent in Latin America and in the Middle East.
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