Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson withdrew his name as President Donald Trump’s nominee for Veterans Affairs secretary this morning in a White House press statement. The announcement comes after days of mounting criticism regarding Jackson’s fitness to run the second largest federal agency.
“Unfortunately, because of how Washington works, these false allegations have become a distraction for this President and the important issue we must be addressing — how we give the best care to our nation’s heroes,” Jackson said in the statement.
Ronny Jackson statement on withdrawing from consideration as Veterans Affairs Secretary –> pic.twitter.com/uBaopwcP5I
— Jeremy Diamond (@JDiamond1) April 26, 2018
The problems for Jackson’s nomination began early in the week; first his Senate confirmation hearing was indefinitely postponed, just a day before it was to take place on April 25. Then a flood of accusations about his tenure at the White House began pouring in. On Wednesday, the office of Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee, released a summary of the allegations levied against Jackson: They included contributing to a hostile work environment; infighting and power struggles with another White House physician; getting drunk on duty and wrecking a government vehicle; and an ad hoc policy toward dispensing pills, which reportedly earned Jackson the nickname “Candy man.”
While he admitted he expected “tough questions” about his qualifications for running the VA — most of Jackson’s professional career has been as a military physician, not an administrative head — the White House doctor said he “did not expect to have to dignify baseless and anonymous attacks on my character and integrity.”
Immediately after Jackson publicly withdrew his nomination, President Trump told Fox & Friends during a call-in to the morning show that he’d expected the media furor. “I even told him a day or two ago I saw where this was going,” Trump said, adding that the doctor’s opponents were “trying to destroy a man… it’s a disgrace.”
Another damning note on the vetting process for VA nominee Ronny Jackson:
White House gave several command climate reports to reporters last night, to defend Jackson against rumors. Press saw them before Senate Veterans’ Affairs members. Weren’t in his confirmation prep docs.
— Leo Shane III (@LeoShane) April 25, 2018
Though he has withdrawn his name as the nominee for the top post at the VA, Jackson refuted the allegations detailed by Tester’s office, many of which came from accounts made by military personnel who served with Jackson.
“The allegations against me are completely false and fabricated,” Jackson said in the statement. “If they had any merit, I would not have been selected, promoted and entrusted to serve in such a sensitive and important role as physician to three presidents over the past 12 years.”