- President Barack Obama’s former deputy chief of staff Jim Messina criticised President Donald Trump’s pick for Veterans Affairs secretary on Friday, calling the nominee “the worst choice you could possibly imagine.”
- Trump nominated US Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson to be his next Veterans Affairs secretary on Wednesday.
- Although he spoke highly of Jackson’s character, Messina said the doctor is unqualified to lead the US’s second-largest federal agency.
A former Obama official railed against President Donald Trump’s decision to nominate US Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson as Veterans Affairs secretary by offering an analogy that illustrated how he believes Jackson is unqualified for the job.
Jim Messina, who once served as President Barack Obama’s deputy chief of staff, said that nominating Jackson, who served as a physician under Obama and Trump and is now on deck to lead the VA pending confirmation, “was the worst choice you could possibly imagine.”
“It’s like having your Uber driver park the space shuttle,” Messina quipped on Friday night during an interview with MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin on Friday. “This guy has no idea what he’s doing. And because he’s nice and spends a lot of time with the president, he gets his own Cabinet seat.”
Despite Messina’s criticism of Jackson, he spoke highly of the doctor’s character.
“I mean, there was this great guy who was my doctor when I was in the White House who was the nicest guy, wouldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings, was always kind of a great guy, you know, just kind of hanging around,” Messina said.
“Donald Trump just made him the VA secretary,” Messina continued. “He has no experience running anything. I loved him, he was my personal doctor.”
Other former officials echoed Messina’s assessment.
“I personally know and greatly respect Ronny Jackson….as a terrific doctor and Navy officer,” former CIA director John Brennan said Thursday on Twitter. “However, he has neither the experience nor the credentials to run the very large and complex VA. This is a terribly misguided nomination that will hurt both a good man and our veterans.”
The VA is the second-largest federal agency that provides healthcare, educational benefits, home loans, and other services to millions of US service members.
Shulkin said his ouster was politically motivated by Trump surrogates who advocated for the privatization of VA healthcare services: “This was used in a political way to try to remove me,” Shulkin said to Fox News anchor Bret Baier on Thursday. “This is Washington. I’m a big boy, I understand that.”