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Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

An office established by the Trump administration in the Department of Veterans Affairs to protect internal whistleblowers ended up alienating "the very individuals it was meant to protect," according to a VA Office of Inspector General report released Thursday.

Why it matters: Creating a permanent Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection was a key campaign promise of President Trump's, who said he wanted more accountability on veteran's care.

  • Instead, the office "engaged in actions that could be considered retaliatory [against whistleblowers]" and "likely diminished the desired confidence of whistleblowers and other potential complainants in the operations of the office," the report said.

What they're saying, per a VA spokesperson: "VA appreciates the inspector general's oversight and has been encouraging the IG to complete this work for some time, but it's important to note that this report largely focuses on OAWP's operations under previous leaders who no longer work at VA."

Go deeper: Veterans face surprise medical bills from non-VA hospitals

Go deeper

Axios Investigates

Exclusive: Airbnb hosts Xinjiang rentals on land owned by sanctioned group

Data: Axios research, Airbnb, Australia Strategic Policy Institute's International Cyber Policy Centre; Map: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Airbnb has more than a dozen homes available for rent in China's Xinjiang region on land owned by an organization sanctioned by the U.S. government for complicity in genocide and forced labor, an Axios investigation has found.

Why it matters: The listings expose Airbnb to regulatory risk under U.S. law. They also land yet another American tech company in the crossfire between the U.S. and China.

Travel bans upend holiday plans amid new virus fears

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Just when it seemed safe to travel overseas again, along comes Omicron.

Why it matters: The emergence of the new coronavirus variant couldn't come at a worse time, just weeks before millions of people are expected to travel for the holidays to reunite with loved ones they've missed during the pandemic.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
1 hour ago - Health

Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The emergence of the Omicron COVID variant is turbocharging the push for vaccine boosters, and experts say a booster may soon become a requirement to be considered "fully vaccinated."

Why it matters: Booster uptake has been sluggish so far, and adding a third shot to vaccine mandates would be highly controversial.

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