Trump said that the federal government is conducting a “very powerful investigation” into Guillén’s killing and offered support for legislation her family supports to address sexual harassment in the U.S. military.
“We’re going to look into it very powerfully, and we already have started, as you know,” Trump told the family, saying the Department of Justice and military were investigating the matter. “We’ll get to the bottom of it. Maybe things can come out that will help other people in a situation like Vanessa.”
The Army specialist went missing from the Texas military base in late April. Her remains were found more than two months later, on June 30, buried 20 miles away from Ford Hood near a lake.
Authorities suspect another soldier, Aaron Robinson, in Guillén’s death. Robinson killed himself on July 1 after he was confronted by police.
His girlfriend, Cecily Ann Aguilar, has been charged with conspiracy to tamper with evidence by assisting in discarding Guillén’s body. Aguilar pleaded not guilty earlier this month.
Guillén’s family says that she had been harassed by another soldier at the military base but didn’t report it out of fear of retaliation, claims that the military is currently investigating.
On Thursday, the U.S. Army named an independent review panel consisting of five experts who will investigate whether personnel at Ford Hood enabled a climate of sexual harassment and discrimination to take hold on the base.
Trump met with Guillén’s mother, father and two sisters and Natalie Khawam, the attorney representing them.
Gloria Guillén, Vanessa’s mother, said through a translator that her daughter’s story is the “story of the whole nation.” She grew tearful at times during the meeting.
The family was in Washington, D.C., to raise support for the #IamVanessaGuillen bill, which Khawam says would allow active-duty service members to file sexual harassment and assault claims to a third party instead of through the chain of command.
“We need reform. We need a bill,” Khawam said during the meeting with Trump. The president, who asked several questions about Guillén’s case, said they would have his support in pushing for the legislation and reform to the system.
The president at one point during the meeting also offered to assist Guillén’s family with funeral costs in a personal capacity.
Thursday’s meeting was not on the president’s official schedule but news reports had indicated that the meeting was expected.