As allegations of professional misconduct swirl around Adm. Ronny Jackson, President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, Trump seems to be admitting the drama probably isn’t worth it — for Jackson.
“I said to Dr. Jackson, what do you need it for?” Trump said of the White House doctor during a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron Tuesday.
“I don’t want to put a man through a process like this,” Trump said. “It’s too ugly, and it’s too disgusting.”
As Vox’s Jen Kirby explained, the Senate has postponed Jackson’s confirmation hearing indefinitely after lawmakers on the Veterans Affairs Committee were informed of his possible professional misconduct in the military and on the White House’s medical staff related to allegations that he drank on the job, overprescribed medication, and created a “hostile workplace environment.” Senators are currently reviewing allegations “related to improper conduct in various stages of his career,” according to CNN.
Jackson’s nomination to replace former VA Secretary David Shulkin, whom Trump abruptly fired in March, had already been met with skepticism from industry watchers. He has no management experience and was seemingly picked for the job because of his good personal relationship with Trump, who was pleased with the clean bill of health Jackson gave him. Before the nomination, Jackson was widely respected on both sides of the aisle; now he faces a difficult Senate confirmation hearing.
Jackson told reporters Tuesday he has every intention of moving forward with the nomination. But Trump says he is advising Jackson to drop out of contention altogether.
Given the volatility of the Trump administration and the instability of the top Cabinet positions (four Cabinet secretaries were fired in four weeks in March), maybe he should listen to Trump, who appears to recognize that even the opportunity to run a $200 billion federal agency isn’t worth the current political mess in his Washington.
Jackson isn’t the first person to make it through the Trump administration’s “vetting” process only to be more thoroughly and publicly investigated down the line — and he likely won’t be the last.