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26 Apr 2018 11:21 AM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Ronny Jackson (Image Source: Public Domain)


Donald Trump is continuing to get bad news. First his personal lawyer Michael Cohen announced late Wednesday he'd plead the fifth in the Stormy Daniels case, then his pick to head up Veterans Affairs for Health, Ronny Jackson, withdrew his name from consideration after allegations of drinking and wrecking a government vehicle came to light.

David Shulkin served as Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs of Health under former President Barack Obama from July 2015 to February 2017 when he was promoted to United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs under Trump, the only cabinet nominee of his to have unanimous consent. 

On March 28 of this year Trump announced via a tweet that he had fired Shulkin. He appointed Robert Wilkie to replace him in the interim and announced Ronny Jackson would replace him permanently after he was confirmed. Shulkin's removal was said to be because he opposed the VA's Choice program allowing vets to get health care at taxpayers' expense from private providers. 

Jackson, 50, a US Navy rear admiral, served as physician to the president under Obama starting in July 2013 and stayed on the job under Trump. Earlier this year he praised the President's health.

But the President started to lose faith in the doctor earlier this week with animosity over his choice rising. He waffled on telling Jackson to drop out of consideration as it had become "ugly."

By late Wednesday allegations of Jackson's prior misconduct, including wrecking a government vehicle while driving drunk after a Secret Service party, were all over the news. It was hinted that he might drop out, and by early Thursday morning, he formally did so.

The allegations against Jackson were a summary of interviews from 23 of his former and current colleagues that were submitted to the Democratic staff of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. Along with the drunk driving, it also included such things as a "pattern" of handing out medication despite no patient history, writing prescriptions for himself, and a "constant fear of reprisal" that led to him contributing to a hostile work environment.

In addition to the questionable behavior, there were also concerns from veteran advocates as well as members of both political parties regarding the doctor's lack of management experience and whether he would give in to Trump's desire to outsource more veteran services.

Jackson denied he'd done anything wrong yet admitted on Wednesday night that he was frustrated with the whole process.  

"The allegations against me are completely false and fabricated," he said in a statement on Thursday morning. "If they had any merit, I would not have been selected, promoted and entrusted to serve in such a sensitive and important role as physician to three presidents over the past 12 years."

"Going into the process," continued the statement, "I expected tough questions about how to best care for our veterans, but I did not expect to have to dignify baseless and anonymous attacks on my character and integrity."

"While I will forever be grateful for the trust and confidence President Trump has placed in me by giving me this opportunity, I am regretfully withdrawing my nomination to be Secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs," said Jackson as he formally withdrew.

"These are all false accusations," said Trump on "Fox & Friends" just after Jackson's statement was released. "They're trying to destroy a man. ... There's no proof of this. He's got a beautiful record."

Blaming the Democrats for causing this, specifically Sen. Jon Tester, the President added that he already had another candidate to replace Jackson but failed to give the name. He did suggest the candidate would have more political experience than Jackson.

It's unknown whether Jackson will be able to continue in his current position as physician to the president. "Admiral Jackson is a doctor in the United States Navy assigned to the White House and is here at work today," announced Sarah Huckabee Sanders. 

A veterans group said they were glad to see such a "painful and tumultuous chapter" for Veterans Affairs finally ending.

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