News and Commentary

‘I Wouldn’t Do It’: Trump Gives VA Nominee Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson A Way Out

“If I were him, I wouldn’t do it.”

That’s what President Trump said about Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson’s woes after allegations emerged that threaten to infringe on Senate hearing as Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Members of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee from both parties have moved to delay the White House doctor’s hearing amid reports of what CNN calls “questionable behavior.”

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

“I told Admiral Jackson just a little while ago, ‘What do you need this for? This is a vicious group of people, they malign … what do you need it for?'” the president said.”He’s an admiral, he’s a great leader, and they question him for every little thing,” Trump said.

“If I were him, I wouldn’t do it.”

But the president said he would leave it up to Jackson to decide whether to pursue the confirmation.

“He is a high-quality person. It’s totally his decision. So he’ll be making a decision,” he said. “I don’t want to put a man through a process like this. It’s too ugly and too disgusting.”

Jackson, for his part, said, “I’m looking forward to rescheduling the hearing and getting the process moving. Thank you.”

The mysterious allegations emerged Monday. “Senate Veterans Affairs Committee members are assessing allegations from whistleblowers that have told the panel about nominee Ronny Jackson’s questionable behavior including excessive drinking and a ‘toxic’ work environment under his leadership, according to two former White House medical staff members who have spoken with the committee,” CNN reported on Tuesday.

Both sources who spoke with CNN told the committee about behavior they observed while working in the White House medical unit.

Lawmakers who spoke with CNN expressed worries that this could represent a pattern of behavior and not a collection of isolated incidents.

In addition, committee staff have been in contact with individuals associated with additional allegations regarding the handling of prescriptions by the White House Medical Unit and a workplace survey that was done because of issues in the unit under Jackson, according to congressional sources. The accounts come from former and at least one current associate of Jackson, according to the sources.

Jackson has been the White House physician for years, serving under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, as well as Trump. Jackson was named to succeed David Shulkin at Veterans Affairs after Shulkin was ousted last month, and Trump was reportedly impressed with the doctor’s handling of a press conference covering Trump’s health.

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson of Georgia and the panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, announced that the Jackson’s hearing would be delayed indefinitely. “The two committee leaders said they want more information about the allegations of misconduct involving Jackson. They declined to discuss the nature of the allegations — and both men stopped short of calling on him to withdraw,” CNN said.