Trump suggests nominee for VA post drop out because of 'ugly' process
- Author: Leroy Wright Apr 25, 2018,
Apr 25, 2018, 20:04
The White House on Tuesday evening reinforced its support of President Trump physician Ronny Jackson, who faces an arduous battle to become secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs after allegations surfaced this week that Jackson improperly dispensed medications, created a toxic work environment and drank on the job.
White House and VA officials were quietly discussing a delay with key allies outside the administration, even as the White House on Tuesday scrambled to save Jackson's troubled nomination.
The Democratic opponents are going to "embarrass themselves", said Sen.
The White House defended Dr. Jackson's record in a statement, but did not address the nature of the claims against him.
Going from White House physician to running the massive - and massively dysfunctional - bureaucracy at the VA was seen as bridge way too far by many senators, who were caught by surprise by Jackson's selection and who anxious privately that Trump had picked him exclusively because the two men had a personal rapport.
"I have very serious questions that need to be addressed, and they should be addressed right now, like today", said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of CT and a member of the committee.
Senators were keeping the details of their investigation underwraps but let it be known that the allegations are serious. "The staff characterized the working environment as being caught between parents going through a bitter divorce", one report said.
White House spokesman Gidey, asked about concerns over Jackson's lack of management experience, said "the question is does anyone ever have management experience for an organization this size".
Again, in the #metoo climate, some naysayers would have us condemn Jackson without substantiating the allegations, first. Mr. Tester met with Mr. Isakson Tuesday morning shortly before announcing the postponement.
There could be hundreds of scenarios where Jackson may have been drinking while overseas but not on call. The information included praise from Obama, including the 44th president's recommendation that Jackson, a Navy officer, be promoted ahead of his peers.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday afternoon that he would take cues from the White House and the committee weighing Jackson's nomination.
"There's a lot of smoke there", Tester told All Things Considered about the as-yet-unsubstantiated allegations.
Now even the president is questioning Jackson's qualifications.
Tester said "if the [allegations] turn out to be true", he would be concerned, but added: "But I don't know that it is true at this moment in time".
Jackson was already under unprecedented scrutiny for a VA secretary nominee - a post that in modern history has always won unanimous backing in the Senate.
"It's immensely disruptive", said Max Stier of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service, who has served in all three branches of government. But he told several senators in recent days that he opposes greater outsourcing of medical care to private doctors.
But now the Senate has indefinitely delayed the doctor's confirmation hearing, scheduled for today, and the prognosis is not good.
Whether Jackson survives the process or not, this has developed into a significant management problem.
Trump himself acknowledged Jackson's "lack of experience", but he appeared to dismiss that concern, saying the VA system - which oversees nine million military veterans - is so sprawling that no one has enough experience to manage it.
By the end of the day, Jackson was in the Oval Office, where Trump urged him to fight back.