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