It generaly expected, moments ago President Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, announced he has withdrawn his nomination amid allegations of workplace misconduct and prescription mispractice. The withdrawal of Jackson followed a decision by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to indefinitely postpone his confirmation hearing.
Staffers on the committee were looking into charges against Jackson of creating a “hostile work environment” including “excessive drinking on the job [and] improperly dispensing meds.”
Jackson, who is a rear admiral in the Navy, currently serves as White House physician, a position he’s held for both President Obama and President George W. Bush.
The White House had defended Jackson amid the allegations, which were detailed in a report released by ranking member Jon Tester (D-Mont.) on Wednesday. Tester and committee chairman Johnny Isackson (R-Ga.) jointly announced the postponement of Jackson’s hearing and sent a letter to the administration asking for “any and all communications” between the White House and Defense Department about “allegations” on Jackson from 2006 to the present.
Committee member Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) has said that the number of people who came forward with the allegations against Jackson that are detailed in the memo was in the double digits. Jackson allegedly wrote himself prescriptions and handed out drugs without prescriptions, including providing a “large supply” of the opioid painkiller Percocet to a White House military office staff member. Jackson also faces allegations that he drank on the job, and on one occasion “could not be reached when needed because he was passed out drunk in his hotel room,” according to the memo.
The report also said Jackson “got drunk and wrecked a government vehicle” at a Secret Service going-away party.
Following the release of the memo, Jackson denied that he ever wrecked a car and insisted his nomination would proceed as planned.
Previously, Trump had questioned why Jackson would want to go forward and take “abuse” from politicians. “It’s totally his decision, he’ll be making a decision,” Trump said this week.
Meanwhile, Democrats had seized on the allegations as a failure of the White House to properly vet nominees. “It is really frustrating to me that this administration continues to not vet, or sloppily send over a nominee that leaves us to really vet them and look at serious questions,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.)
“The White House again has failed its vetting. I mean the White House clearly did not pay enough attention to this,” said Brown.
As The Hill adds, even before the new allegations surfaced, both Republicans and Democrats were questioning Jackson’s experience, and whether he was qualified to lead the second-largest agency in the federal government. Trump’s Twitter announcement of Jackson’s nomination last month came as a surprise to many in Washington, as his policy views were not known.
The Senate only received paperwork from the Trump administration formalizing Jackson’s nomination last week, and he has been meeting privately with senators to try to convince them of his qualifications.
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