A confirmation hearing for Veterans Affairs Secretary nominee Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson has been indefinitely postponed amid allegations of improper conduct, it was announced today. The announcement was made by the ranking democrat on the Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee, Sen. Jon Tester of Montana.
“All I can tell you is we didn’t initiate this discussion,” Tester told NPR’s All Things Considered. “This discussion came when we were notified by folks who work with Adm. Jackson, folks in the military.”
According to Tester, more than twenty military employees made allegations that Jackson created a hostile work environment, drank heavily while on the job and inappropriately prescribed drugs to staff members. Jackson has been the physician to the president since 2013.
“We were told stories where he was repeatedly drunk on while duty where his main job was to take care of the most powerful man in the world,” Tester said. “That’s not acceptable.”
Tester also said the allegations concerning inappropriate prescriptions involved drugs given out during overseas trips where there were several time changes.
“Most of them are the ones that make you want to sleep and then make you wake up,” Tester said. “These are basically doled out, and by the way, we had 20 military folks and retired military folks tell us these stories, these were doled out on overseas trips where there are a lot of time zone changes.”
President Trump, when asked about the allegations today, seemed to throw cold water on Jackson’s nomination. “I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t do it. What does he need it for? To be abused by a bunch of politicians that aren’t thinking nicely about our country? I really don’t think personally he should do it, but it’s totally his — I would stand behind him — totally his decision,” the President said of Jackson.
President Trump nominated Jackson last month after David Shulkin, the previous Secretary of Veterans Affairs was fired amid several scandals. Mr. Trump repeatedly called Jackson “one of the finest people that I have met,” at one point saying, “actually in many ways, I’d love to be him.”
Asked whether he would be withdrawing his name from consideration for VA Secretary amid the allegations, Jackson said he wouldn’t. “I was looking forward to the hearing tomorrow,” he told reporters. “Kind of disappointed that it’s been postponed, but I’m looking forward to getting it rescheduled and answering everybody’s questions.”
Photo by The White House