Former White House physician Ronny Jackson dives headfirst into 'Obamagate' and angers former colleagues
Posted May 14, 2020 6:18 p.m. EDT
CNN — Dr. Ronny Jackson, the former White House physician who is running for Congress as a Republican in Texas, is embracing the right-wing conspiracy, promoted by President Donald Trump without offering proof, that then-President Barack Obama spied on Trump's campaign -- angering some of the Obama aides who served alongside him in the White House.
The turn has left some officials from the last administration a little perplexed because Jackson was considered even-minded, apolitical -- and friendly with Obama, who he is now accusing of grave crimes.
"President Obama weaponized the highest levels of our government to spy on President Trump. Every Deep State traitor deserves to be brought to justice for their heinous actions," Jackson wrote Tuesday on Twitter, without offering any proof.
The message sparked some rebukes from former Obama aides.
"Ronny Jackson was friends with Obama and his entire staff. I never heard him make a partisan statement," tweeted Tommy Vietor, a former National Security Council spokesman under Obama. "So it's really been sad to watch him debase himself by lying for Trump and promoting this toxic bullshit to win a Congressional primary. Truly shameful."
One former Obama official said Jackson and Obama got along well and had gotten to know each other during lengthy overseas trips and because Jackson was a constant presence at the White House. They said they never detected any animosity between them and couldn't remember Jackson ever voicing a political view.
Indeed, the warm sentiments toward Jackson ran so high among some Obama aides that they rushed to his defense when he came under fire following a briefing about Trump's annual physical in 2018. They insisted he was a straight-shooter who wasn't doing Trump's bidding when he declared the President in "excellent health" despite evidence of heart disease and borderline obesity.
Later, Obama aides privately defended Jackson when he was accused of distributing sleeping pills on long flights without prescriptions and other misdeeds that ultimately sank his nomination to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. While most did not believe him qualified to run the agency, they said he was a man of character whose nickname of "Candyman" was being misconstrued.
The Defense Department's inspector general continues to investigate allegations that Jackson was periodically intoxicated and mishandled prescription drugs, according to a US defense official. Jackson has previously denied all of the allegations leveled against him, calling them "completely false and fabricated."
On Wednesday, Jackson released a new statement "regarding recent false accusations from former Obama officials and the mainstream media."
"I stand by my comments calling out President Obama's administration for weaponizing our government to spy on President Trump and his supporters," Jackson wrote. "I will never apologize for standing up to protect America's national security interests and constitutional freedoms, even if that means triggering liberals and the 'mainstream media.' "
In his statement, Jackson says he's "proud to call President Trump a close friend."
That drew new ire from some ex-White House aides.
"During my time in the White House Ronny Jackson was my colleague, my friend and my doctor. I thanked him in my book for his good care," tweeted Alyssa Mastromonaco, a former deputy chief of staff. "His comments yesterday and today leave me confused, angry, and heartbroken. I don't recognize this version of Ronny at all."