Trump says VA pick will soon decide whether to withdraw
- Jacqueline Daniels
Jackson, 50, the Navy rear admiral who White House chief physician, was nominated last month to head the federal government's largest bureaucracy by President Donald Trump.
And even as Trump defended his nominee, he suggested Dr. Ronny Jackson might prefer to withdraw.
During a White House news conference, Trump insisted he would stand behind Jackson, calling the White House doctor "one of the finest people that I have met".
Several lawmakers said the allegations haven't been substantiated, but they must be addressed.
The president said he did not want to force someone "who's not a political person" through a tough confirmation process. "So, we'll see what happens".
Trump said a decision about whether to proceed would be left to Jackson. What does he need it for? To be abused by a bunch of politicians?
Allegations against the Trump VA nomination to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs is swiftly veering in the direction of a witch-hunt with naysayers asserting mere allegations should preclude confirmation.
They say it is their duty to "thoroughly and carefully vet" his nomination.
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Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., a member of the veterans committee, said that "if the allegations were based in fact, it would be concerning". Jon Tester of Montana. "We will continue looking into these serious allegations and have requested additional information from the White House to enable the committee to conduct a full review".
A 2012 watchdog report ordered up by Jackson found that both he and a rival physician, Dr. Jeffrey Kuhlman, exhibited "unprofessional behaviors" as they engaged in a power struggle over the White House medical unit, according to The Associated Press, which reviewed the six-page report.
With Congress set to recess Friday for a week, Tester said the soonest a hearing could be held would be in about 10 days. "This discussion came when we were notified by folks who work with Adm. Jackson, folks in the military". "We still have more information to find out".
Jackson declined to answer reporters' questions about those allegations and gave no indication he would withdraw.
Tester says if that's true, such behavior while caring for "the most powerful man in the world" is "not acceptable". "Let's just start from there", Schlapp told Shannon Bream. "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". We have got our troops stressed to the max.
Democrats on the committee assembled privately late Monday. But no specific evidence of wrongdoing was offered.
More than a half-dozen former White House officials who served with Jackson in Obama's administration also expressed support for him.
"Admiral Jackson has been on the front lines of deadly combat and saved the lives of many others in service to this country. And particularly his time at the White House as a physician in the medical unit". "Admiral Jackson's record of strong, decisive leadership is exactly what's needed at the VA to ensure our veterans receive the benefits they deserve".
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In Jackson's case, his nomination was already facing scrutiny from veterans groups and lawmakers who questioned his management experience, his views on outsourcing VA services and his glowing description of Trump's health during a January news briefing.
The White House Medical Unit in 2012 - led by current Veterans Affairs nominee Ronny Jackson - was described by one staffer as the "worst command ever".
"It may not be an issue shortly", Inhofe said. But inadequate vetting by the White House has been a problem since the election. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a member of the Senate committee.
Though Trump couched his comments as a defense of Jackson, his statement was a public signal to a nominee under fire.
Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who isn't on the panel considering the nomination, said the allegations "raise questions about the White House vetting process", and added that she had concerns about Jackson even before the new questions came to light. "I don't know whether this is an aberration or not, but it certainly is something that bears looking into". The allegations on the White House physician for creating a hostile work environment are also being reviewed.
Asked if Jackson's nomination is still viable, the committee chairman, Sen.
Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., put it succinctly: "Are they going to manage the secretary, or is the secretary going to manage the VA?" That's a good question to ask, and he needs to answer it.
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