Pentagon Spends 2 Years Investigating Former WH Physician, Finds He’s A Bad Boss, Drinks Beer, Sleeps On Planes

Veterans Affairs Secretary Nominee Dr. Ronny Jackson departs the U.S. Capitol April 25, 2018 in Washington, DC. Jackson faces a tough confirmation fight after being plagued by allegations of inappropriate behavior.
Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX), a rear admiral and doctor who worked as the White House physician from 2012 to 2018, first came under media fire when then-President Donald Trump nominated Jackson to head the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2018. Despite the fact that Jackson was seen as a competent and well-qualified doctor during the Obama administration, Trump’s nomination prompted numerous media reports accusing Jackson of inappropriate behavior during his time as White House physician.

The media onslaught ultimately forced Jackson to withdraw his name from consideration to lead the VA. In 2020, Jackson successfully ran for the House of Representatives.

After the intense media campaign against him, the Pentagon announced it would investigate the allegations beginning in 2018. The final report on that investigation, which states that it “was limited in scope and unproductive,” presents Jackson as essentially a bad boss with a temper.

The Pentagon blamed the weakness of the report on the demand from the Trump administration that White House counsel be present at “all interviews of current White House Medical Unit employees,” CNN reported.

Over the course of the investigation, officials interviewed 78 people, 56 of whom had something negative to say about the rear admiral. Most of the allegations centered around Jackson’s treatment of staff, claiming the majority of those interviewed told investigators “they personally experienced, saw, or heard about him yelling, screaming, cursing, or belittling subordinates,” according to the report.

The report also included a few people who claimed that Jackson drank while traveling with then-President Barack Obama in 2014. Two witnesses claimed Jackson drank a beer while on a presidential trip. Another witness said they smelled alcohol on Jackson but were unsure if he was drunk. Another witness contradicted the claim, saying he did not smell alcohol on Jackson during that trip, CNN reported. Jackson denies ever drinking while on the job.

One witness told investigators that Jackson made sexual comments about a female medical subordinate.

Another accusation against Jackson is that he took prescription sleep medication Ambien on long flights. Witnesses claimed they worried whether he would be able to perform his duties as physician to government officials. The report, however, notes that no specific regulation against Ambien exists. The report then suggests such a regulation be made; in other words, Jackson didn’t break any existing rules.

The report also failed to substantiate a claim that Jackson crashed a government vehicle.

The report reads like a laundry list of complaints against someone linked to Trump, made by federal government employees who were almost certainly biased politically, considering the fact that such complaints didn’t arise during the four years Jackson worked for the Obama administration.

The truth is similar complaints about congressmen and women mistreating staff are routine, yet they are not officially investigated for their behavior. It appears that the Pentagon wasted precious time and resources to find out that someone was a bad boss who sometimes had a few drinks and took Ambien to sleep on planes.

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