Another of Donald Trump’s impulsively-made, unqualified picks for his cabinet is in trouble and the president now says he will understand if he drops out of consideration.
Trump tapped his personal physician, one-star Admiral Ronny Jackson, to head the sprawling, troubled Veteran’s Administration, despite his lack of experience or qualifications for the complicated job running America’s biggest bureaucracy, and without properly vetting him for the job.
Now the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, only two days before it was to begin confirmation hearings, has postponed consideration of Jackson indefinitely while it investigates a number of personal and professional issues that have arisen.
Even Republicans were troubled by Jackson’s lack of management experience before considering him to oversee the VA’s system of health benefits, its cemetery system and a bureaucracy of over 360,000 employees with an annual budget of $186 billion.
There was no vetting on Ronny Jackson. No formal interview. No process. Now his nomination will be held up amid a probe into his behavior.
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) April 24, 2018
Now Democrats have joined the chorus after CBS News reported that those who know and have worked with Jackson charge that he creates a “hostile work environment,” and that he is guilty of “drinking on the job” and “improperly dispensing meds.”
“If proven true,” a source told CBS News, “it’ll sink his nomination.”
After repeatedly saying he had full confidence in Jackson, Trump today began backing away from his controversial choice saying he’d understand if Jackson decides not to go through confirmation, reports The Washington Post.
“If I were him,” the Washington Post quotes Trump as saying, “I wouldn’t do it.”
“I don’t want to put a man through a process like this,” Trump said when asked about Jackson’s nomination during a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron. “It’s too ugly, and it’s too disgusting.”
Trump said a decision about whether to proceed would be left to Jackson, adds the Washington Post.
“I said to Dr. Jackson, what do you need it for?” Trump said.
In Washington-speak, that is the equivalent of Trump throwing Jackson under the proverbial bus.
Trump made the surprise choice of Jackson to run the VA after he fired former secretary David Shulkin amid an ethics scandal and a mounting rebellion within the agency.
Jackson served as the White House physician for President Obama and then Trump.
Jackson was little known until this past January when he examined President Trump and gave him a clean bill of health, although he suggested he lose some weight and change his diet to lower his cholesterol.
Jackson said Trump weighed 239 pounds which brought great skepticism from those who compared the nearly obese president to others of that weight who appear to be much thinner.
Now it looks like Trump has another embarrassment on his hands as Jackson is likely to drop out of the confirmation process.
Trump must also still address the significant problems and questions around the VA.
Hopefully this time the president will tap someone to head the VA who is qualified, has been vetted and understands the nature of the challenges ahead.