By yesterday afternoon it was fairly clear that President Trump was opening the exit door for Ronny Jackson if he wants to bail out, but the recent revelations about his prior conduct have raised even more questions. We’re hearing stories about drinking on the job, freely handing out prescriptions and “drunkenly banging on a female employee’s hotel room door.” (Just as a side note, when you’re talking about getting drunk and chasing women I would remind you that the guy is a sailor.) None of these stories are new, however, which brings us to what might be the more pressing mystery. How long has this been going on and who knew about it?
One of the people who claim to have been in on the secret is Senator Jon Tester. His recent remarks make it sound as if this was one of those “worst kept secrets” in Washington. (CNN)
The embattled nominee tapped to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs was known as “the candy man” inside the White House, Sen. Jon Tester said Tuesday, citing reports from individuals who raised concerns about his nomination.
The Montana Democrat told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that around 20 people raised concerns to his committee about Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, and according to those people, Jackson would hand out prescriptions “like candy.”
Tester described reports to the Veterans’ Affairs Committee that alleged that on overseas trips, Jackson would “go down the aisle way of the airplane and say, ‘All right, who wants to go to sleep?’ And hand out the prescription drugs like they were candy … and put them to sleep and then give them the drugs to wake them back up again.”
Tester’s staff told CNN that Jackson would hand out Ambien and Provigil.
These aren’t stories from 2017. Almost all of the tales of drinking, passing around prescription drugs and chasing female employees are from the period when Jackson was serving Barack Obama. Forget debating whether or not he should be in charge of the VA for a moment. How did the guy still have a job? And perhaps more to the point, how long has Tester and everyone else in the loop known about this and why didn’t anyone say anything?
I understand that there’s a very different level of vetting that goes on for a potential cabinet member as compared to a staff position on the White House medical team, but that only explains how someone gets their foot in the door in the first place. Assuming all these allegations are true, once he was on the job with Obama’s staff, how did he keep that job? If Tester or plenty of others have known about this for years, shouldn’t someone have pointed out that having a drunken doctor on call could be problematic if the president suddenly ran into a serious medical issue?
Even before the stories of alleged drinking and womanizing, it turns out that a report on Jackson’s “unprofessional behavior” was filed back in 2012. The bottom line is that the media is all over the story of how this shows that President Trump doesn’t vet his nominees carefully enough. Assuming the allegations prove true, that’s a fair enough accusation to make. But if we’re going to examine that question. how about everyone else who dropped the ball on this guy for at least six years?