Failed Nominee for Veterans Affairs Chief Is Unlikely to Return as Trump’s Doctor
Posted April 30, 2018 12:26 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON — Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, who withdrew from consideration for secretary of veterans affairs last week amid allegations related to his professional conduct, is unlikely to return to his role as the president’s doctor, according to a person familiar with the matter.
It was unclear if Jackson, a Navy rear admiral, would remain in the White House in any capacity or if he would retire from the military.
President Donald Trump had nominated Jackson in March for advancement to a two-star admiral. His promotion is still pending, and senators have indicated that they will scrutinize it in light of recent claims that he oversaw a hostile work environment, loosely distributed prescription medications and drank while on official White House travel.
Sean Conley, a Navy officer who took over for Jackson after he was nominated, is expected to stay on as Trump’s primary doctor.
Jackson withdrew himself from the nomination on Thursday, two days after charges brought to Capitol Hill by current and former colleagues burst into the open. He has denied the charges, and the White House has sought to dispute certain claims against him.
Jackson’s pending departure was first reported by Politico.
Trump has aggressively defended Jackson since the charges were made public last week by Democrats on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, who say they spoke with more than 20 people who worked with Jackson. On Saturday, Trump called on the panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, to resign and threatened to retaliate against him for what he said were smears against Jackson.
“Tester started throwing out things that he’s heard,” Trump said at a rally in Washington Township, Michigan, on Saturday night. “Well, I know things about Tester that I could say, too. And if I said them, he’d never be elected again.”
Tester took the lead in raising concerns about Jackson’s nomination, eventually releasing a two-page document with allegations he said were brought to the committee primarily by military officials who worked at the White House. His efforts were backed by Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, the committee’s Republican chairman. Together, they had delayed Jackson’s confirmation hearing to allow the committee time to investigate.
Several of those military officials also described their experiences with Jackson with reporters for The New York Times and other publications.
Tester, who is up for re-election in a state Trump easily won in 2016, did not pass judgment on the allegations but said they warranted investigation.
Even before the allegations, Jackson, whom Trump nominated largely out of personal affinity, was expected to face tough questioning from senators about his qualifications to lead a department of more than 370,000 employees.
Jackson has been a physician in the White House medical unit since 2006, and the president’s top doctor since 2013. President Barack Obama spoke glowingly about Jackson during his final year in office.