During a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, President Donald Trump said he would “stand behind” his nominee for secretary of Veterans Affairs, Ronny Jackson, while seeming to hint that Jackson might decide to withdraw his nomination.
Jackson was scheduled to appear before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on Wednesday, but the confirmation hearing was delayed indefinitely over concerns about the White House physician and former combat surgeon’s lack of experience, as well as other workplace complaints about Jackson’s conduct that were leveled against him.
“I haven’t heard of the particular allegations, but I will tell you, he’s one of the finest people I have met,” Trump said of Jackson before going on to criticize congressional Democrats for attempting to block the confirmations of many of Trump’s Cabinet nominees, including Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo.
Check out Trump’s response to the allegations against Ronny Jackson below:
Trump added that he doesn’t like the process lawmakers are putting Jackson through, seeming to suggest that Jackson may decide against seeking confirmation for the position.
“I said, ‘What do you need it for?’ So it’s totally his decision, but he’ll be making a decision,” Trump said. “[…] I don’t want to put a man through a process like this, it’s too ugly and too disgusting. So we’ll see what happens.”
The president added that he “would love to be” Jackson and said that if it was his decision, he wouldn’t accept the nomination. But he stressed that Jackson has his full support regardless of what he decides.
Jackson faces allegations of “excessive drinking on the job, improperly dispensing meds,” and a “hostile work environment,” according to CBS News.
The White House issued a statement Tuesday confirming its support for Jackson in response to the allegations against him.
“Admiral Jackson’s record of strong, decisive leadership is exactly what’s needed at VA to ensure our veterans receive the benefits they deserve,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement, according to The Washington Post.
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, issued a joint statement in which they said the confirmation hearing was delayed “in light of new information presented to the committee.”
The Senate committee has requested information from the White House concerning past complaints against Jackson, and lawmakers will investigate the new allegations to determine how confirmation proceedings should proceed.
“I think the White House has to give us full, and accurate, factual responses completely addressing these questions, today. I mean, right away,” committee member Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said, according to the Post. “Allowing these questions to fester are a disservice to the VA and to Admiral Jackson.”
Members on the panel stressed that the allegations are unsubstantiated but acknowledged that, if proven true, they could seriously complicate Jackson’s path to confirmation as VA secretary.