Ronny Jackson Withdraws Nomination As Veterans Affairs Secretary

Not unexpectedly, Ronny Jackson has withdrawn his nomination to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs.


After mounting allegations of improper behavior, Ronny Jackson has withdrawn his nomination to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs:

WASHINGTON — The White House withdrew the nomination of Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, the White House physician, to lead the Veterans Affairs Department on Thursday after lawmakers went public with a torrent of accusations leveled against him by nearly two dozen current and former colleagues from the White House medical staff.

In a statement released Thursday morning, Dr. Jackson announced that he was withdrawing his name for consideration to be the secretary of Veteran Affairs.

“Unfortunately, because of how Washington works, these false allegations have become a distraction for this president and the important issue we must be addressing — how we give the best care to our nation’s heroes,” Dr. Jackson said in a statement provided by the White House press office.

He said that the charges against him were “completely false and fabricated.”

Within minutes of the withdrawal, President Trump lamented the loss of his nomination and vowed retribution against Senator Jon Tester of Montana, the top Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

“He’s an admiral, highly respected, a real leader,” Mr. Trump said of Dr. Jackson in a telephone call to “Fox and Friends.” “And I watched Jon Tester of Montana, a state I won by over 20 points, they love me and I love them. Jon Tester, I think this is going to cause him a lot of problems in his state. He took a man who is an incredible man, an incredible man” and smeared him.

“These are all false accusations,” Mr. Trump said. “These are false. They’re trying to destroy a man.”

The White House did not immediately announce a nominee to replace Dr. Jackson. His withdrawal ensures that the department, which employs more than 370,000 people and includes vast health and benefits systems, will remain without a permanent leader for at least weeks to come.

The concerns raised on Capitol Hill over Dr. Jackson’s nomination were bipartisan and emerged after the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee interviewed more than 23 people, including current and former military personnel, who had worked alongside him. The accusations included a hostile work environment, the improper dispensing of prescription drugs to White House staff and reporters during official travel, and intoxication while traveling with the president.

The White House had initially moved to defend Dr. Jackson against what officials there called “ugly” abuse and false accusations. And he indicated repeatedly in interactions with reporters that he intended to stay the course.

But the nomination was clearly in peril when the top senators on the committee announced on Tuesday that they would postpone a confirmation hearing for Dr. Jackson scheduled for the next day, pending further investigation.

Here’s Dr. Jackson’s full statement:

One of the greatest honors in my life has been to serve this country as a physician both on the battlefield with United States Marines and as proud member of the United States Navy.

It has been my distinct honor and privilege to work at the White House and serve three Presidents.

Going into this process, I expected tough questions about how to best care for our veterans, but I did not expect to have to dignify baseless and anonymous attacks on my character and integrity.

The allegations against me are completely false and fabricated. If they had any merit, I would not have been selected, promoted and entrusted to serve in such a sensitive and important role as physician to three presidents over the past 12 year

In my role as a doctor, I have tirelessly worked to provide excellent care for all my patients. In doing so, I have always adhered to the highest ethical standards.

Unfortunately, because of how Washington works, these false allegations have become a distraction for this President and the important issue we must be addressing – how we give the best care to our nation’s heroes.

While I will forever be grateful for the trust and confidence President Trump has placed in me by giving me this opportunity, I am regretfully withdrawing my nomination to be Secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

I am proud of my service to the country and will always be committed to the brave veterans who volunteer to defend our freedoms.

As I said this morning, Jackson never should have been nominated for this position regardless of the veracity of the allegations against him that have become public over the course of the past week. Simply put, while he may be a fine physician with a distinguished Naval career, there’s simply no evidence to suggest that he has anything approaching the kind of administrative experience that is needed for someone who would be heading the second largest department in the Federal Government. Once those allegations came out, though, it was clear that the nomination was imperiled to say the least. This became apparent when even several Republican Senators became critical of the pick in statements to the press during the course of this week.

According to reports, Jackson will return to his position in the White House. Given these allegations, though, it strikes me that there at least needs to be an investigation about these reports and the question of whether or not he should continue to hold that position, or whether he should potentially be subjected to disciplinary by the appropriate medical licensing board(s) and/or the United States Navy regarding the conduct alleged. That, however, is an issue for another day.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    “I’m going to surround myself only with the best and most serious people. . . . We want top of the line professionals.”

  2. Mark Ivey says:

    There goes Trumps new supplier of Provigil. Sad.

  3. Neil Hudelson says:

    His nomination lasted 3.2 Scaramuccis.

    18
  4. CSK says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    The best and most serious people–even the second-best and second-most serious people–have an uncanny aversion to committing career suicide, which is what working for Donald Trump is.

  5. Franklin says:

    If he served Obama and Bush, I’d be curious of their opinions of the allegations. At the very least, I’d trust their opinions about 100x more than Trump’s (mmm, on second thought Trump’s opinion has zero weight and I can’t divide by that).

  6. de stijl says:

    Harriet Miers just poured off some of her 40 for her homie.

  7. MarkedMan says:

    @Mark Ivey: I know you meant this jokingly, but when we were first introduced to Donald Trump’s personal physician, with his one man practice in Trump Tower, I immediately thought, “Oh, here’s the guy who gives Percocet to millionaires.” And now with all this stuff about Candy Man Jackson, I wonder if he’s the Prez’s new connection. No evidence whatsoever, just a gut feel. Trump has always struck me as someone who was abusing prescription meds. I’ve seen a fair number over the years.

  8. mattbernius says:

    @de stijl:
    Well played sir.

  9. Kathy says:

    The doctor makes one good point. If he’s guilty of even half the allegations against him, how come he rose so far?

    If an investigation finds truth to these allegations, then another investigations needs to be set up for why these misdeeds were not caught earlier.

  10. Kathy says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    His nomination lasted 3.2 Scaramuccis.

    I’m stealing this. Thanks!

    It’s reminiscent of the “millihelen,” defined as the quantity of beauty needed to launch one ship.

  11. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Kathy:
    It sounds like he did a good job of kissing the arses above him, and treating those below like crap.

  12. KM says:

    @Kathy:

    The doctor makes one good point. If he’s guilty of even half the allegations against him, how come he rose so far?

    Because shockingly, people tend to get away with terrible behavior if nobody around them seems to give a damn or is actively paying attention. How many embezzlers make it up the ranks before getting caught? How many men are high on the Wienstein Scum Scale and never get called out? How many people drive drunk and wreck their cars but because nobody died, it got hushed up? We don’t know and we won’t know until their particular scandal blows up.

    The fact that he’s gotten away with this for so long just means he’s either good at hiding it, good at working the system to get away with it or was lucky enough to be in an environment where unless your name was on the front page, it wasn’t a career killer. And that’s what it seems to take nowadays – poor PR and negative headlines brings in more justice and change then basic investigations. Blaming the system, however, doesn’t excuse him in any sort of fashion. It’s just another way to deflect blame.

  13. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy:

    If he’s guilty of even half the allegations against him, how come he rose so far?

    This is an excellent point. In a different thread and before many of these revelations came out, I expressed skepticism because, cynical as I am, I assumed the Navy would not let someone with a drinking problem anywhere near the office of physician to the president. The blow back would just be too huge if it ever came out. But if even 1/4 of these charges are true, well, my respect for the military has just gone down a notch.

  14. michael reynolds says:

    He had a great job. He had an impressive career. He could have stayed on, or he could have walked out the door and been snapped up by any number of employers wishing to add his prestige to their board of directors.

    Or. . .

    He could lie for Trump, win Trump’s favor, and be promptly destroyed. Maybe he and Tillerson and Kelly and Priebus and McMaster can form a support group for guys too effing stoopid to realize that Trump is the gympie gympie tree of politics.

    It’s like watching birds try to fly through a plate glass window. Swooooop. . . Smash! Swooooop. . . Smash! Swooooop. . . Smash! You’d think after observing half a dozen dead birds you might hesitate before flying into that same plate glass, but, nope! Cause these are Great Men of Great Accomplishment with Amazing Resumés and Cool Uniforms and Money and Stuff!

    Fckin’ morons, but great, great morons. The very best!

  15. Mikey says:

    @MarkedMan: I did 20 years in the military, and I can’t believe they let Jackson get away with this stuff. Getting drunk and smashing up a government vehicle would have killed any prospect of career advancement for any officer I served with. Same with being too drunk to perform regular duty. Yet Jackson made it to flag rank and into the White House.

  16. MarkedMan says:

    @michael reynolds: You have it exactly right. There are many, many medical device companies looking to add a little more prestigious clinical expertise to their boards and to the smaller to medium sized “Physician to the President” fills the bill quite nicely. He could have had a $75K-$150K position on a half dozen boards without even trying and would have been merely required to show up at a few meetings and shake a hands with a few of the larger potential customers. He may have even been able to survive the embarrassing ass-kissing speech. But “The Candy Man”? He is now toxic.

  17. rachel says:

    @michael reynolds:

    It’s like watching birds try to fly through a plate glass window. Swooooop. . . Smash! Swooooop. . . Smash! Swooooop. . . Smash!

    “He who hesitates is sometimes saved.” -J. Thurber

    Dr. Jackson would have done better to hesitate.

  18. Kathy says:

    @KM:

    The fact that he’s gotten away with this for so long just means he’s either good at hiding it, good at working the system to get away with it or was lucky enough to be in an environment where unless your name was on the front page, it wasn’t a career killer.

    We’re all overlooking that many of these terrible actions are tolerated and covered up inside the system. See how when one particular allegation, or a few, go viral, then suddenly everyone around the miscreant knew for years and years, and did noting to put a stop to it.

    That’s what really needs to change.

    I’m hopeful perhaps when the full extent of Trump’s malfeasance is revealed, even his supporters will demand no one like that be allowed to rise so high.

    I just don’t expect it.

  19. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: Thanks for the link. Never knew about that. My favorite bit in the Wikipedia piece is that the fruit is edible if you take off all the poisonous needles — who in the world was ever so hungry he thought it would be worth giving it a try to find out?

  20. Mister Bluster says:

    @wr:..who in the world was ever so hungry he thought it would be worth giving it a try to find out?
    They were likely in the same family as the first guy who looked at a cow’s teats and said: “I’m going to drink whatever comes out of those.”

  21. Kathy says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    If early Homo sapiens were grossed out as much as we are, another group of hominids would have taken over the world.

  22. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: It’s all a matter of a what you get used to. I was as picky as any American kid but somehow got used to walking into the meat market in the 100 degree dusty heat and strolling amongst tables with what looked like little balls of flies the size of my fist. You wave your hand over them and they all buzz off to reveal a little piece of meat. Cook it enough and it is healthier than the rare meat we eat here. Or so I told myself at the time.

  23. wr says:

    @Mister Bluster: Sure, but there he could look at calves nursing and get the general idea — might even ring a distant memory from his infancy. Those plants Michael referenced are entirely poisonous on the outside, and only after you get through the poison are the fruits edible…

  24. Kathy says:

    @wr:

    I’m guessing people started drinking milk due to infants whose mothers either didn’t produce enough milk (say due to lean times after birth), or whose mothers died in childbirth (a persistent human problem). Cow, sheep or goat milk isn’t ideal for a baby, but it’s good enough.

    Having milk around, people would experiment with it. Add some lucky accidents, like letting random bacteria turn it to yogurt, and some fortunate mutations for lactose tolerance, and natural selection gives a reproductive advantage to those who can drink milk and eat dairy.

  25. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I once had lunch at a roadside restaurant a coworker swore by. There were so many flies in the place, the food was served covered with a plastic bag. The food was good, and I didn’t get sick or suffered any ill effects, but I would never set foot in that place again.

  26. Scott says:

    Trump is incompetent. Period. Doesn’t care about people or results. How long is it going to take for everyone to realize that. I’m probably not the first to quote this from the Great Gatsby but it absolutely applies to Trump.

    “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

    Except Trump is smashing the entire country.

  27. Grewgills says:

    @wr:
    If it’s that well protected it must be delicious. That’s why I only eat porcupines, hedgehogs, and fugu.

  28. MarkedMan says:

    One outgoing White House President Obama administration official was reportedly given 20 pills of Provigil as a “parting gift” from Jackson, one CNN source said.

    More and more I suspect Trump abuses prescription drugs and that his infatuation with Jackson was in part due to his willingness to ignore the prescription pad when dispensing controlled substances. I have no solid evidence for this other than Trump’s behavior and his skeevy personal physician before he assumed office. And although Trump seems to be a teetotaler I have no problem believing he wouldn’t consider commercial drugs given to him by a doctor as anything but medicine. An enterprising reporter might get a real coup by investigating Trump’s skeevy personal physician.

  29. MarkedMan says:

    Harold Bornstein agreed to pay $86,250 to the family of Janet Levin, who allegedly died after falling when she took “unhealthy amounts” of prescription drugs that Bornstein had given her unnecessarily, according to archived court papers.

    Levin’s family accused Bornstein of being “negligent and grossly reckless” for prescribing her barbiturates, morphine and valium “greatly in excess of appropriate dosages” and despite the drugs not being suitable for any condition for which she was being treated.

    Levin, 52, “became addicted to narcotics” and was “rendered sick, sore, lame and disabled”, according to the lawsuit, which blamed Bornstein squarely for setting in motion a series of factors “all leading to her death” from the apparent drug ingestion and fall in 1998

  30. MarkedMan says:

    Another case charged both Bornstein and his father of recklessness in overdosing and improperly performing a colonoscopy on Vincent Pollifrone, which the case argued led to his death in 2000. The case was disposed in 2006, after the defendants denied the claims.