What's next for Ronny Jackson?

Matt Saintsing
April 26, 2018 - 1:02 pm

Photo by Oliver Contreras/SIPA USA

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Long before Adm. Ronny Jackson was nominated to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, he was recommended to receive a second star in the Navy.

But now that Jackson, 50, has withdrawn his nomination to serve in Trump’s cabinet amid a litany of misconduct allegations, including drinking on the job and being careless with Percocet, his career as a Navy physician is in question.

“Admiral Jackson is a doctor in the United States Navy assigned to the White House and is here at work today,” said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, in a statement Thursday morning.

President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, tweeted her support of Jackson.

Jackson appears to still be in Trump’s good graces when the president praised him earlier this week. “He’s one of the finest people that I have ever met,” he said when the accusations against Jackson began to surface.

The claims include wrecking a government vehicle after drinking too much during a going away party for a Secret Service agent, and creating a hostile working environment.

Jackson’s fate as a career Naval officer rests with the Navy, who will decide whether or not to investigate the charges from 23 current and retired military and White House officials.

Even if he’s cleared by the Navy, his pending promotion must be approved by the Senate Armed Services committee. And if anything about the past week tells us anything, Jackson could expect some sharp-elbows in the Senate.

Rules of the Senate allow a single senator to place a hold on his nomination to receive a second star if questions remain about Jackson’s conduct, fitness or judgment.

Then there’s the revelation made this week that some of Jackson’s current and past colleagues complained, albeit privately, about his purported “toxic leadership.”

It’s possible for Jackson to continue to serve in his current role as White House physician, but his ultimate fortune remains in the U.S. Navy’s crosshairs.

Trump will have to nominate someone else to be the 10th Secretary of Veterans Affairs, but in the meantime, acting Secretary Robert Wilkie will lead the government's second largest agency with over 300,000 employees.