Ronnie Jackson Withdraws From Consideration to Lead Veteran Affairs
Rear Adm.(Dr) Ronnie Jackson has withdrawn his name for consideration to become the next Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, President Trump’s embattled nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, has withdrawn from consideration for the post amid allegations he had fostered a hostile work environment and behaved improperly while serving as the top doctor leading the White House medical unit.
In a statement Thursday morning, Jackson said, “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.”
Jackson, who has been serving in his role as Director of White House Medical Unit since 2006, was appointed physician to the President by then-President Barack Obama and retained by President Trump. But his appointment to head the second largest department of the federal government raised eyebrows from the start:
More from NPR:
Jackson’s initial nomination came as a surprise to many when the president announced his pick last month to lead the VA after the departure of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, who had been confirmed with unanimous bipartisan support in the Senate.
While previous presidents had praised Jackson’s medical care, almost immediately questions arose as to whether or not he had the managerial experience to oversee a massive health care operation of 370,000 employees that serves more than nine million veterans and has a budget of nearly $200 billion.
“Admiral Jackson is highly trained and qualified and as a service member himself, he has seen firsthand the tremendous sacrifice our veterans make and has a deep appreciation for the debt our great country owes them,” Trump said in announcing his nomination.
But after the allegations against Jackson began to be reported by national media outlets this week, Trump said he wouldn’t be surprised if Jackson wanted to withdraw given the rising storm, but that it was “his decision.”
President Trump, while praising and defending his nominee, quickly turned his attention to political concerns.
In a phone interview with “Fox & Friends” Thursday, Trump says Jackson “would have done a great job,” but that he saw where his nomination was going.
Trump says he told Jackson, a Navy vice admiral: “Welcome to Washington. Welcome to the swamp. Welcome to the world of politics,”
Trump places the blame on Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, whose office issued a report Wednesday listing allegations it had gathered about Jackson’s work as White House doctor. Trump says: “I think Jon Tester has to have a big price to pay in Montana.”
Whatever comes next, certainly there will be more chaos and controversy for the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs.
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