White House physician Ronny L. Jackson, President Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, wrecked a government vehicle after getting drunk at a Secret Service going away party, according to an explosive list of allegations released Wednesday by the Democratic staff of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
In the two-page summary of interviews conducted by the minority staff, Jackson also stands accused of a “pattern” of handing out medications with no patient history, prescribing medications to himself, and contributing to a hostile work environment with “a constant fear of reprisal.”
According to the report: “Jackson was described as ‘the most unethical person I have ever worked with,’ ‘flat-out unethical,’ ‘explosive,’ ‘100 percent bad temper,’ ‘toxic,’ ‘abusive,’ ‘volatile,’ ‘incapable of not losing his temper,’ ‘the worst officer I have ever served with,’ ‘despicable,’ ‘dishonest,’ as having ‘screaming tantrums’ and “screaming fits,’ as someone who would ‘lose his mind over small things,’ ‘vindictive,’ ‘belittling,’ ‘the worse leader I’ve ever worked for.’”
It continued: “As Jackson gained power he became ‘intolerable.’ One physician said, ‘I have no faith in government that someone like Jackson could be end up at VA.’ A nurse stated, ‘this [working at WHMU] should have been the highlight of my military career but it was my worst assignment.’ Another stated that working at WHMU was the ‘worst experience of my life.’”
The document does not provide specifics on when some of the alleged incidents occurred and it presents a stark contrast to the stellar portrait offered by Jackson’s defenders, who have described allegations as a smear job.
Jackson, 50, a Navy rear admiral and former combat physician who served in Iraq, has been under fire for days amid questions about his qualifications to lead VA and allegations of his management practices at the White House Medical Unit. Late Monday, Jackson’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee was postponed, two days before it was scheduled to occur. Trump told Jackson Tuesday that he should fight for the nomination, according to people familiar with the discussion, but earlier in the day had suggested that perhaps the doctor should withdraw.
In addition to Jackson’s lack of management experience, he had come under fire for his glowing appraisal of Trump’s health following his annual physical in January. Jackson said then that the president might live to the age of 200 with a healthier diet. In recent days, fresh concerns arose about Jackson’s management of the White House medical office, said the officials, who declined to provide details.
Earlier Wednesday, the White House intensified its defense of Jackson, arguing that his record as personal physician to the past three presidents was sterling and demanding that he have an opportunity to personally attest to his character and job performance before the Senate.
“Dr. Jackson’s record as a White House physician has been impeccable,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Wednesday. “In fact, because Dr. Jackson has worked within arms’ length of three presidents, he has received more vetting than most nominees.”
Sanders said that Jackson’s background had been scrutinized in four separate investigations, including one conducted by the FBI, which she described as “very detailed and thorough.” She said that he had received “unanimous praise” from dozens of witnesses and “glowing” evaluations from his superiors.
But Sanders would only generally praise Jackson and stopped short of answering for specific allegations leveled against Jackson this week, including that he over prescribed drugs to White House staff.
Though Sanders said Jackson underwent background investigations pertaining to his position as presidential physician, she would not detail what if any separate vetting process may have been conducted on him once Trump decided he wanted to nominate him to be VA secretary.
Philip Rucker contributed to this story.