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Photo: Alastair Pike/AFP via Getty Images

Veterans Affairs deputy secretary James Byrne was fired Monday morning, three Trump administration officials tell Axios. The White House confirmed that Byrne is no longer with the administration.

Why it matters: The VA has recently been in inner turmoil. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said he dismissed Byrne "due to loss of confidence in Mr. Byrne’s ability to carry out his duties." Wilkie said the decision "is effective immediately," following Axios' reporting.

Between the lines: The VA has come under fire after a House staff member said she was sexually assaulted at the VA hospital in Washington. The White House was disappointed by the way Wilkie and the VA handled the situation, according to three sources close to the situation.

  • Facing pressure from the White House, Wilkie asked for Byrne's resignation Monday morning, according to the sources.
  • VA press secretary Christina Mandreucci denied that Byrne's dismissal was related to the sexual assault investigation, but did not elaborate further.

The backdrop: The staff member's complaint of sexual assault was investigated by the agency's Office of Inspector General, but no charges were brought.

  • In a letter to the House Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Mark Takano (D-Calif.) last month, Wilkie called the staffer's claims of sexual assault "unsubstantiated" and defended the VA as a "safe place for all veterans."
  • The agency IG Michael Missal then pushed back in a letter to Wilkie, saying he had thoroughly briefed Wilkie and Byrne on the decision: "Reaching a decision to close the investigation with no criminal charges does not mean that the underlying allegation is unsubstantiated," he said.

Byrne was confirmed by the Senate to the position in September with a vote of 81 to 11.

Go deeper

45 mins ago - Health

The floodgates have opened for vaccine mandates

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

State governments, private businesses and even part of the federal government are suddenly embracing mandatory coronavirus vaccinations for their employees.

Why it matters: Vaccine mandates have been relatively uncommon in the U.S. But with vaccination rates stagnating and the Delta variant driving yet another wave of cases, there's been a new groundswell of support for such requirements.

Ina Fried, author of Login
45 mins ago - Sports

Axios at the Olympics: Softball on the brink

Cat Osterman, pitching here against Japan on Monday, came out of retirement to play in the Tokyo Olympics. Photo: ina Fried

TOKYO – When the U.S. and Japan take the field in Yokohama on Tuesday, they are playing for more than just a gold medal. As badly as both teams want to win, they also want to show the world their sport deserves a permanent place in the Olympics.

Why it matters: Softball is returning to the Olympics after a 12-year absence, but its long-term Olympic future is uncertain, with the sport not part of the 2024 Games in Paris and plans up in the air after that.

Updated 1 hour ago - Sports

Naomi Osaka eliminated from Olympic Games tennis tournament

Czech 42nd-ranked Marketa Vondrousova (L) shakes hands with Japan's Naomi Osaka after their Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women's singles third round tennis match at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo on Tuesday. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP via Getty Images

Naomi Osaka was eliminated from the Olympics Games after losing her Tokyo tennis tournament match 6-1, 6-4 in the third round to Czech Marketa Vondrousova on Tuesday.

Of note: Japan's Osaka is the women's world No. 2, while is Vondrousova ranked No.42.