- Several people have come forward alleging that President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs engaged in improper behaviour, potentially disqualifying him from the job.
- Senators on the Veterans Affairs Committee expressed concern about the White House’s lack of vetting on such a high-profile nominee.
- Trump is still backing Admiral Ronny Jackson, calling him “a wonderful man.”
WASHINGTON – The scandal surrounding President Donald Trump’s pick to serve as the next secretary of Veterans Affairs has brought the nomination to a screeching halt after a slew of allegations surfaced of improper behaviour.
As a result, the wave of allegations leveled against US Navy Admiral Ronny Jackson blindsided the Senate committee responsible for shepherding through the nomination, and lawmakers are feeling exhausted at the lack of vetting from the White House.
“The White House is putting together a lot of good people,” Alaska Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan told reporters on Tuesday. “But do I have concerns about what’s happening there? Yeah.”
Sen. Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, echoed those concerns.
“I’ve got to look at what’s come before other than what’s been reported in the press for me to judge,” he said. “But you know if it is true, then that is a vetting miss.”
Sen. John Thune, the third-ranking Republican in the Senate, said that if this becomes “the rule when it comes to sending people up here,” it could “create a lot of problems,” according to BuzzFeed News.
And Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio said “the White House again has failed its vetting.”
“I mean the White House clearly didn’t pay enough attention to this,” he continued.
“I assume the president’s staff now if the president wants something, they know there’s nothing in it for them to stand in the way and vet the person first,” Brown added. “And it’s clear from – I don’t know what’s true yet – but it’s clear there are so many people willing to come forward and talk about that, it’s equally clear the White House never talked to.”
The committee was first made aware of the allegations over the weekend after the chairman, Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson, informed the members.
Montana Sen. Jon Tester, the ranking Democrat on the Veterans Affairs Committee, told NPR that allegations against Jackson included “stories where he was repeatedly drunk while on duty where his main job was to take care of the most powerful man in the world.”
“That’s not acceptable,” Tester added about Jackson, who has served under the three most recent presidents.
Trump still likes Jackson for the job of VA secretary
But Trump is still backing Jackson publicly. During a press conference with the president of France on Tuesday, Trump told reporters that Jackson is “a wonderful man.”
“This is a vicious group of people that malign – and they do,” Trump added. “And I’ve lived through it; we all lived through it. You people are getting record ratings because of it, so congratulations. But I said, ‘What do you need it for?’ He’s an admiral. He’s a great leader. And they questioned him about every little thing.”
Trump mused that Jackson is being “abused by a bunch of politicians that aren’t thinking nicely about our country.”
“I really don’t think, personally, he should do it,” Trump continued. “But it’s totally his – I would stand behind him – totally his decision.”