Trump just hinted his embattled VA secretary nominee might be done

Win McNamee/Getty ImagesUS President Donald Trump.
  • President Donald Trump suggested on Tuesday that his nominee for secretary of veterans affairs, Ronny Jackson, should withdraw from the Senate confirmation process amid allegations of workplace misconduct.
  • Trump praised Jackson and criticised the Senate confirmation process, calling lawmakers “vicious,” but acknowledged that Jackson, who’s also the White House physician, may lack the necessary experience to run the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • The president also minimized the allegations against Jackson, which CBS News cited sources as saying include “excessive drinking on the job,” “improperly dispensing” medications, and fostering a “hostile work environment” in the White House medical office.

President Donald Trump suggested on Tuesday that his nominee for secretary of veterans affairs, US Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, should withdraw from the nomination process amid allegations of workplace misconduct.

CBS News on Monday cited sources as saying Jackson, who’s also the White House physician, had been accused of “excessive drinking on the job,” “improperly dispensing” medications, and fostering a “hostile work environment” in the White House medical office.

Addressing reporters at a press conference with France’s president on Tuesday, Trump repeatedly praised Jackson’s character, calling him “one of the finest people I have met.”

But he also acknowledged that Jackson lacked the necessary experience to run the government’s second-largest bureaucracy, and he said he urged Jackson to think about whether he wanted to move forward.

“I know there’s an experience problem, because lack of experience,” Trump said.

He added: “You could run the biggest hospital system in the world and it’s small-time compared to the veterans administration. So nobody has the experience.”

Trump later seemed to suggest that he had encouraged Jackson to withdraw from the Senate confirmation process, which he called “too ugly and too disgusting.”

“I told Admiral Jackson just a little while ago, I said: ‘What do you need this for? This is a vicious group of people,'” Trump said.

“I don’t want to put a man through a process like this,” he said, adding: “The fact is I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t do it. What does he need it for? To be abused by a bunch of politicians?”

Trump said he stood behind Jackson and would let him choose whether to withdraw or remain under consideration. He added that wasn’t aware of the “particular allegations” but brushed them aside nevertheless.

“He’s an admiral, he’s a great leader, and they question him about every little thing,” Trump said.

Jackson did not deny the allegations when asked by a reporter on Tuesday.

“I’m looking forward to the hearing so we can sit down and I can explain everything to everyone and answer all the senators’ questions,” Jackson said.

Jackson’s hearing before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs was scheduled for Wednesday, but lawmakers on Tuesday morning postponed it indefinitely.

“I can tell you we’re vetting out Jackson,” Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana told The Washington Post on Monday evening. “I can’t get into specifics, but we’re doing our job to make sure he’s fit for the job.”

Jackson’s confirmation was predicted to be difficult, as some lawmakers and veterans advocates have expressed doubt about his ability to lead the department.

Jackson drew national attention and criticism after performing Trump’s first physical exam as president and later delivering a glowing report on Trump’s health.

Watch part of Trump’s comments:

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