Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson didn’t last long as President Trump’s pick to become the next Veteran Affairs secretary thanks to the really ugly campaign Montana Senator Jon Tester waged against him. CNN first reported Tester’s accusations, which included driving while intoxicated and wrecking a car. And Tester alleged that Jackson freely dispensed drugs – so freely that his nickname is the Candyman. Tester alleged that Jackson drunkenly pounded on the door of a female employee so loudly while accompanying President Obama overseas that he had to be subdued by the Secret Service who feared Jackson would disturb the president.
Two sources who previously worked in the White House Medical Unit described the same incident, with one former staffer telling CNN that it was “definitely inappropriate, in the middle of the night,” and that it made the woman uncomfortable.
At the time, the incident was reported up the chain of command, and it is one of multiple drunken episodes involving Jackson on overseas trips, according to a source familiar.
On the drunken door pounding, the Secret Service has now released a statement knocking it down after the CNN story was published. (CNN)
After this story was published, the Secret Service released a statement saying that it had no record of “any incident, specifically, any incident involving Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson.”
“A thorough review of internal documents related to all Presidential foreign travel that occurred in 2015, in addition to interviews of personnel who were present during foreign travel that occurred during the same time frame, has resulted in no information that would indicate the allegation is accurate.”
A report by ABC includes a complete statement from the Secret Service:
“Over the last 48 hours, media outlets have alleged that U.S. Secret Service personnel were forced to intervene during a Presidential foreign travel assignment in order to prevent disturbing (former) President Barack Obama. The Secret Service has no such record of any incident; specifically, any incident involving Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson,” the Secret Service said in a statement.
The law enforcement agency said it performed a thorough review of internal documents related to all of President Obama’s foreign travel in 2015 and interviewed personnel who were present during those trips. The investigation turned up no information that indicated the allegation is accurate, according to the statement.
Of the lax pill distribution claim, Tester provided a document generated by Democrat committee staffers after interviews with 23 “colleagues and former colleagues” of Jackson.
In the most detailed account of allegations against Jackson so far, a document provided by Tester’s office says the former VA secretary nominee improperly dispensed medications to others and himself, according to interviews with colleagues and former colleagues, who described him as unethical.
The two-page list provided by Democrats is divided into three sections, including one titled “Drunkenness,” which alleges that on at least one occasion during an overseas presidential trip, Jackson could not be reached when needed, while he was “on duty,” because he was passed out drunk in his hotel room.
The document also includes an allegation that “At a Secret Service going away party, Jackson got drunk and wrecked a government vehicle.”
The first category contains a dozen claims about his prescribing practices, including that he would write himself prescriptions and, when caught, have his physician’s assistant do it instead. He is also said to have thrown the White House medical staff “into a panic” when tabs of the opioid Percocet were discovered missing when it turned out Jackson had provided a “large supply” to a White House Military Office staffer.
About that wrecked car, the Secret Service also disputes that claim. The Washington Post reported Friday night that after a thorough review of his vehicle records, the drunken accident claim isn’t there.
The White House on Friday said officials had conducted a thorough review of presidential physician Ronny L. Jackson’s vehicle records and found three minor incidents but no evidence that he “wrecked” a car after drinking at a Secret Service going-away party, as was alleged in a document released by Senate Democrats this week.
And, of the loosey-goosey pill distribution, the White House produced two years of audits showing no problems.
The White House also produced more than two years’ worth of audits of the White House Medical Unit’s handling of prescriptions and medications, all of which showed no problems.
White House officials also denied an accusation in the Tester memo that Jackson had allowed “ineligible” administration officials to receive care at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The officials said many senior White House officials are entitled to medical treatment at work, including treatment from specialists at Walter Reed.
Needless to say, these allegations were shocking to most people, given the glowing letters of his previous job performances from both Presidents G.W. Bush and Obama, along with the full support of President Trump that was reported about after Trump nominated the man for the job. Why was the top Democrat on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee coming forward with all this? Did he simply go rogue in a purely politically partisan way because he is in a tough race for re-election in Trump-loving Montana?
Senators from both sides of the aisle expressed concern that perhaps Jackson did not have the proper background for running the huge bureaucracy. Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) said he has no problem with Tester’s behavior.
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), who also is on the committee, said he wished a public record of the allegations against Jackson had emerged, perhaps in the form of a congressional hearing.
But Moran said he had “no complaints” about what Tester did. “People brought him information. It’s important for us to know,” Moran said. Assessing the truth of those allegations “would take more steps in the process than have occurred,” he said.
Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Republican Johnny Isakson was aware of Tester’s investigation. (Washington Post)
Although the allegations were released by Democrats, their nature and lack of public evidence to support them has also raised questions about the role of Senate Republicans, notably Johnny Isakson (Ga.), chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Isakson knew of the investigation that Tester, the committee’s ranking Democrat, was leading, and did not object to the release.
These allegations are serious, especially given that Jackson is the President’s physician. He has served two previous presidents and at no time did any of these gossip-like charges come forward. There is no official paperwork to verify any of the charges. Both the White House and the Secret Service are vouching for Jackson. It just all sounds fishy, even in today’s over-heated partisan politics. At this time, it sure looks like an old-fashioned character assassination.