VA Nominee In Limbo As Senators Weigh Allegations

Glen Norman
April 25, 2018

The Oval Office meeting comes as Jackson's nomination has been imperiled by allegations of inappropriate workplace behavior.

The officials declined to elaborate on the allegation that Jackson overprescribed drugs.

Trump repeated several times that he thought Jackson should withdraw. "And that's a disservice to the nominee, as well as the American people". In fact, you had President Obama basically saying that Admiral Jackson was poised under pressure, that he should be promoted.

Before his nomination, Dr. Jackson had garnered little public attention and his policy views were unknown.

The alcohol-abuse allegations, Tester said, came from his Obama years - primarily from social events. The president's picks for Labor secretary, Army secretary, Navy secretary, deputy Treasury secretary, deputy Commerce secretary and many other positions have withdrawn after they were announced.

In a statement earlier Tuesday, White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley said the White House continues to support Jackson.

He spoke to reporters before meeting Tuesday afternoon with Republican Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a member of the Senate committee.

Two sources told NBC News that prior internal White House reviews found nothing out of the ordinary. But Jackson has faced numerous questions from Republican and Democratic lawmakers, as well as veterans groups, about whether he has the experience to manage the massive department of 360,000 employees serving 9million veterans. He said he isn't sure when, or whether, the hearing might be rescheduled. Kuhlman left the White House in July 2013 and Jackson was named as his successor.

The Secret Service intervened after Jackson's actions became so loud that agents anxious he would wake up then-President Obama, according to CNN.

A watchdog report reviewed Tuesday by The Associated Press appeared to corroborate some of those allegations. The report by the Navy's Medical Inspector General found a lack of trust in the leadership and low morale among staff members. The document described the working environment as akin to "being caught between parents going through a bitter divorce".

The president, responding to a news conference question from Fox's John Roberts, praised Jackson but seemed to open the door for him to withdraw.

"I know there's an experience problem because of lack of experience", Trump admitted Tuesday.

Trump called Jackson "one of the finest people that I have met".

The White House's failure to immediately address them prompted Isakson late Monday to indefinitely postpone Jackson's confirmation hearing, which was scheduled for this week. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., the chairman of the panel.

"We take very seriously our constitutional duty to thoroughly and carefully vet each nominee sent to the Senate for confirmation", the statement said. His hearing had been set for Wednesday.

The two lawmakers sent a letter to Trump on Tuesday requesting additional information about Jackson, who has served as a White House physician since 2006.

Trump picked Jackson to succeed David Shulkin, who was forced to resign as VA secretary after an inspector general's report uncovered inappropriate expenses. But the president privately urged his nominee to keep fighting to win Senate confirmation, and Jackson showed few signs of backing down.

Spokeswoman Amanda Maddox cites questions from lawmakers over allegations made about Jackson's past behavior.

Jon Tester is the top Democrat on the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. He specializes in emergency medicine and served with a battlefield surgical unit in Iraq. He says Jackson has a record of "strong decisive leadership" and is "exactly what's needed at the VA".

Later Tuesday, Tester said in an NPR interview that the committee had heard complaints from more than 20 current and former military members that Jackson had improperly given drugs, had become intoxicated on professional trips and belittled staff members.

"No, I'm looking forward to the hearing", Jackson said.

"It has been really careless, maybe even negligent about the vetting in a number of these nominations", Mr. Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal says he thinks there may well be a need for more time, in fairness to Jackson, so that he and the administration have an opportunity to answer these questions fully and fairly.

No other agency is in more dire need of clear steady leadership.

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