Justice Department now investigating death of Spc. Vanessa Guillen, Trump tells family

Abbie Bennett
July 30, 2020 - 6:10 pm
President Donald Trump meets with Gloria Guillen, mother of missing Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen, in the Oval Office of the White House July 30, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

The family Spc. Vanessa Guillen, met with President Donald Trump on Thursday, offering him legislation named for the slain Fort Hood soldier. The president told Guillen's family the Justice Department is now involved in the investigation of Guillen's death.

Trump met the family -- sisters Lupe and Mayra and mother Gloria -- in the Oval Office, and said reports of Guillen's death "hit me very hard," said she was a spectacular person and that the Justice Department is now involved because "we didn't want this to be swept under the rug," according to White House pool reports. 

The family and their attorney, Natalie Khawam, offered the president the "I Am Vanessa Guillen" Act, a bill aimed at creating a third-party agency for service members to report sexual harassment. Guillen told her family before her death that she was sexually harassed by a fellow soldier. 

Family of slain soldier marches to deliver 'I Am Vanessa Guillen' bill to POTUS

"She was afraid of retaliation," Guillen's sister told the president. Guillen did not report her harassment. "We need a change and we need a positive change." 

"We're going to look into it very powerfully, and we already have started ... We'll get to the bottom of it," Trump said. "Maybe things can come out that will help other people in a situation like Vanessa."

Trump said the family had his support for the legislation. 

"Hopefully something very powerful will come out in honor of your sister and your daughter," Trump said. 

Guillen's mother, through an interpreter, said her daughter's story is "a story of the whole nation" and "she had a whole life ahead of her." 

"I know you're going to help us," another of Guillen's sisters told the president. 

Guillen's remains have yet to be released to her family, they said, because of the ongoing investigation. The Army is supporting a funeral for her, though, the family said. The president offered to help with funeral expenses personally. 

Remains of missing Fort Hood soldier Spc. Vanessa Guillen identified by Army, family says

If Fort Hood meets the Army's standards, Congress says those standards must change

Reach Abbie Bennett: abbie@connectingvets.com or @AbbieRBennett.

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