President Trump’s nomination for Veterans Affairs secretary will proceed with the Senate hearing, which has yet to be rescheduled after misconduct allegations recently surfaced, an official said Tuesday.
A White House official told the Huffington Post that Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson would “certainly not be railroaded by a bitter ex-colleague,” after allegations surfaced this week about his past conduct as White House physician.
Allegations include “excessive drinking,” and a “toxic,” “hostile” work environment under his leadership, and overprescribing, according to former White House medical staff members who said they worked in the White House medical unit, multiple news outlets reported.
Trump met with Jackson on Tuesday evening, and the White House later said Jackson would continue with the hearing.
“He has improved unit morale, received glowing reviews and promotions under Republican and Democrat presidents, and has been given a clean vet from the FBI,” a senior White House official said Tuesday. That official also said Jackson “has never been the subject of an Inspector General review,” which the Associated Press had previously reported.
The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee postponed a hearing to confirm Jackson as VA secretary after whistleblowers recently told the panel about allegations of Jackson’s misconduct while working in the White House medical unit. The hearing, initially slated for Wednesday, was postponed without being rescheduled in order to further investigate the allegations, the panel said.
The White House also defended its physician after the misconduct allegations surfaced this week, despite Trump saying Tuesday that he would understand if Jackson drops his nomination due to the “ugly” hearing process.
President Trump on Tuesday acknowledged the claims and said that while he supports his nominee and stands by him, he doesn’t want to put him through the “ugly” process.
““I don’t want to put a man through a process like this,” Trump said when asked about Jackson during a press conference. “It’s too ugly, and it’s too disgusting.”
“I said to Dr. Jackson, what do you need it for,” Trump added, presumably referring to the “ugly” process.
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson, a Republican from Georgia, and the panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, announced Tuesday that Jackson’s confirmation hearing will be postponed after the improper conduct accusations have surfaced.
Jackson is President Donald Trump’s top pick to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, after he recently fired former Secretary David Shulkin.
It was initially unclear if the confirmation hearing would be postponed indefinitely or if a new date would be set. Jackson’s hearing had been slated for this week.
Jackson, 50, has served as the White House physician since 2006. He is an Iraq war veteran.
While he has military experience, many people and several veterans’ groups have questioned whether he has the administrative experience to run the VA.
After the allegations surfaced, the White House issued a statement:
“Admiral Jackson has been on the front lines of deadly combat and saved the lives of many others in service to this country. He’s served as the physician to three Presidents — Republican and Democrat — and been praised by them all. Admiral Jackson’s record of strong, decisive leadership is exactly what’s needed at the VA to ensure our veterans receive the benefits they deserve, ” Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement.
The Washington Post was first to report the postponement, and said anonymous officials said concerns have recently surfaced about Jackson’s management of the White House medical office.