Trump hints Ronny Jackson may withdraw as VA nominee

Matt Saintsing
April 24, 2018 - 2:20 pm

(Photo by Oliver Contreras/SIPA USA

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Dr. Ronny Jackson, the White House physician who President Donald Trump tapped to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, may abandon his bid to lead the agency in light of questions about his background coming to surface.

“I don’t want to put a man through a process like this. It’s too ugly and too disgusting,” Trump said Tuesday at a joint press conference with French President Emmanual Macron.

Trump said he hasn’t heard about the allegations against Jackson, but accused Senate Democrats of obstructionism.

While the president said that Jackson’s decision is his to make, he said, “What does he need it for? To be abused by a bunch of politicians that aren’t thinking nicely about our country? I really don’t think personally he should do it, but it’s totally his (decision).”

Jackson was selected to serve as secretary of Veterans Affairs after Trump ousted David Shulkin last month.

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee was set to hear testimony from Jackson Wednesday, but his confirmation hearing was abruptly postponed Tuesday morning after reports of a hostile working environment, including excessive drinking on the job, and improperly dispensing medicine came to light, according to CBS News.

Senators Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) the top lawmakers on the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, released a joint statement saying  the hearing had been postponed “in light of new information presented to the committee.”

"We take very seriously our constitutional duty to thoroughly and carefully vet each nominee sent to the Senate for confirmation. We will continue looking into these serious allegations and have requested additional information from The White House to enable the committee to conduct a full review,” the Senators said.

Isakson and Tester sent a letter to Trump Tuesday, requesting any information regarding any potential improper conduct Jackson may have shown.

The latest developments raises questions about the White House’s vetting process.

“No matter whether these allegations against Dr. Jackson prove true or false, whether they continue to delay his confirmation indefinitely or sink it altogether, it’s the latest in a chain of unforced errors for which veterans are continuing to pay the price,” said AMVETS National Executive Director Joe Chenelly.

There is also nothing but downside for veterans in prolonging the uncertain period between permanent secretaries,” he said. “Veterans deserve and need a stable VA with leaders properly vetted and confirmed.”

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct.), who sits on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee said, “The White House has been consistently and abysmally careless, even derelict in the vetting process, which accounts for some of the problems with their nominees.”

“These very serious questions about Admiral Jackson need answers, and the answers should have been ready well before the questions were raised publicly. And that's a disservice to the nominee, as well as the American people,” he said.