Should Jon Tester hit the road, Jack?

This morning, Karen had a nice rundown of the allegations brought forth against Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson in a memo offered up by Montana Senator Jon Tester and what’s become of them since the shocking “revelations” first hit the news. Let’s just say that they don’t seem to be holding up well under initial scrutiny, to put it charitably. Not long after holes began appearing in these stories, President Trump jumped back into the fray on Twitter with a less than subtle solution to offer: Jon Tester should resign. (CNN)

President Donald Trump on Saturday morning called for Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester to resign over his opposition to White House physician Ronny Jackson’s nomination for secretary of veterans affairs, saying some of the allegations against Jackson “are proving false.”

Tester, the top Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, had raised concerns about allegations against Jackson, including that he loosely handled prescription pain medications, was intoxicated during an overseas trip, and created a toxic work environment. Jackson withdrew his nomination on Thursday.

“Allegations made by Senator Jon Tester against Admiral/Doctor Ron Jackson are proving false,” Trump wrote in a pair of tweets. “The Secret Service is unable to confirm (in fact they deny) any of the phony Democrat charges which have absolutely devastated the wonderful Jackson family. Tester should resign. The………great people of Montana will not stand for this kind of slander when talking of a great human being. Admiral Jackson is the kind of man that those in Montana would most respect and admire, and now, for no reason whatsoever, his reputation has been shattered. Not fair, Tester!”

While I somehow doubt Tester is going to suddenly resign because of a Presidential tweet, these charges brought by the Senator still need to be settled one way or the other. We’re not going to have a confirmation hearing at this point, but the serious nature of the allegations leads toward one of two paths. Either the reputation of Jackson has been unfairly smeared by Jon Tester or the President has an unqualified and potentially dangerous person on his medical staff. Neither is acceptable, nor should Tester’s memo simply be forgotten now that the nomination has been withdrawn.

But even my own analysis isn’t complete because it’s possible this isn’t an either-or situation. As with too many things inside the gossip mill, it’s conceivable that at least some of the stories have an element of truth to them which was later blown out of proportion by people seeking political advantage against the Trump White House. That’s the worst possible state of affairs since it doesn’t offer a clean solution.

Let’s keep in mind that Jackson has denied the allegations. CNN’s article claims he denied “some of them” but when reporters caught up with him last week he dismissed the entire set of claims, or at least seemed to. That’s what makes this so curious. Most of these charges seem rather easy to check, so why would Jackson lie if he could be quickly found out? More to the point, why would Tester accept the claims he was hearing and put them out in public when they could be easily refuted if they’re false? Neither makes any sense.

The story of Jackson getting drunk and wrecking a government vehicle was the easiest to check. The vehicle records have been combed over and there were a total of three “minor incidents” over the course of Jackson’s tenure and no mention of drinking. I suppose it’s possible that one of the Democrats feeding information to Tester took a story of a minor fender bender and inflated it to a “wreck,” adding in their own speculation as to whether he was drinking, but absent some shocking new revelation, that one seems to be a lie.

The incident where he allegedly was drunkenly banging on a woman’s hotel door and the Secret Service had to haul him away also looks weak. CNN is sticking by that one in the article I linked above, but they’re still basing everything on unnamed sources. The Secret Service is now on the record saying there is no record of any such incident happening. Again, it might be possible that he was knocking on somebody’s door and an agitator added in the part about the Secret Service dragging him away for flavor, but if it was so serious that they had to drag Jackson away there would be a record of it. This is also looking like either a fabrication or gross exageration.

The most worrisome of the charges is the one about raiding supplies of Percocet and handing out pills like candy. The White House has provided audits of the Medical Unit’s handling of prescriptions and medications showing nothing having gone missing. But if there were bogus prescriptions written, the numbers might add up even if some pills were provided without proper procedures being followed. But that’s just speculation. With the other allegations falling part, the responsibility for naming names of accusers and delivering evidence should fall on both Tester and the news outlets saying they have “verified” the allegations, not Jackson.

For the time being, unless Tester wants to name his “whistleblowers” or CNN wants to identify their anonymous sources for interrogation, I say the benefit of the doubt goes to Ronny Jackson. And if this was all a pack of untruths or gross distortions designed to ruin his reputation, perhaps Tester should reconsider the President’s suggestion.