Whistleblowers detail allegations against Jackson

Senate Veterans Affairs Committee members are assessing allegations from whistleblowers that have told the panel about nominee Ronny Jackson's questionable behavior including excessive drinking and a "toxic" work environment under his leadership, according to two former White House medical staff members who have spoken with the committee.

Posted: Apr 28, 2018 12:11 PM
Updated: Apr 28, 2018 12:24 PM

In 2005, President George W. Bush stunned his supporters by nominating his White House counsel and former personal lawyer, Harriet Miers, to the Supreme Court. While Miers was beloved by staffers inside the White House, even right-wing commentators considered Bush's decision reckless.

"However nice, helpful, prompt and tidy she is, Harriet Miers isn't qualified to play a Supreme Court justice on 'The West Wing' let alone be a real one," Ann Coulter wrote at the time.

Meanwhile, Democrats attacked the pick as an example of cronyism.

After what Bush later called "three terrible weeks," Miers phoned the president. It was late at night and Bush was working in his office in the Treaty Room. Miers told Bush she wanted him to withdraw her nomination.

"I put my friend in an impossible situation," Bush later recounted in his memoir, "Decision Points."

"If I had it to do over again, I would not have thrown Harriet to the wolves of Washington."

Bush soon chose Samuel Alito, who had elite legal credentials. Conservatives cheered the pick, and though Alito still had a rough confirmation process, the Senate confirmed him.

The Miers debacle has served ever since as a cautionary tale for presidents. The main lessons were that presidents should pick personnel for top positions who were a) at least minimally qualified and b) not viewed as cronies.

As with so many lessons of previous presidencies, the Miers episode seems quaint in the age of President Donald Trump. Trump has appointed his daughter and son-in-law to senior positions in the West Wing. His picks for top cabinet positions have been sent to the Senate with little or no vetting, putting Congress more firmly in charge of a scrubbing process to which the White House previously paid a great deal of attention.

The Presidential Personnel Office, which is in charge of recruiting potential administration officials, has been hobbled by inexperience and incompetence. In a devastating investigation, The Washington Post recently reported that the leadership of the office, rife with cronyism, includes "a college dropout with arrests for drunken driving and bad checks and a Marine Corps reservist with arrests for assault, disorderly conduct, fleeing an officer and underage drinking."

So few could have been surprised that Trump chose Ronny Jackson, the White House physician, to run the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs. Like Miers, Jackson was well-liked by White House staffers. Like Miers, both the right and the left found the pick shocking and embarrassing.

Given the impulsiveness of the decision, it was predictable that Jackson, the subject of apparently no White House vetting, would run into trouble in the Senate. On Monday, a hearing on his nomination was canceled amid vague allegations of professional misconduct and it became apparent Jackson's nomination was in grave danger.

On Tuesday afternoon, Trump delivered what may have been the final blow. In a rambling stream-of-consciousness answer to a question about Jackson's status, Trump, as he often does, narrated the drama over his VA pick as if he wasn't the president who nominated him.

"I said to Dr. Jackson, 'What do you need it for?'" Trump told reporters. "So we'll see what happens. I don't want to put a man through who's not a political person. 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. He'll make a decision."

All of this was Trump's fault: he picked someone without the proper experience or vetting. Then, when the decision blew up, he shrugged and wondered in public why his nominee would want to be put through such a process in the first place. He spoke like a bystander who had nothing to do with it.

If Jackson withdraws, as seems likely, the difference between how Bush and Trump handled their missteps is instructive. Bush stuck with her until she withdrew on her own, never hinting in public that he had made a mistake. (Miers stayed in her job at the White House for more than another year.) He later took responsibility for putting her through the ordeal. Bush's sin was extreme loyalty to a personal friend.

With the Jackson pick, Trump has managed to be simultaneously reckless, thoughtless and disloyal, by publicly undermining his friend at the first hint of trouble.

To borrow Bush's analogy, it's as if Trump fed someone to a pack of wolves and then asked him why he wanted to be eaten alive in the first place.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 895229

Reported Deaths: 9462
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1749772017
Ramsey722701040
Dakota66032572
Anoka62513568
Washington39357355
Stearns32821275
St. Louis28761399
Wright25354211
Scott25329181
Olmsted21750127
Sherburne18478126
Carver1629166
Clay11923103
Blue Earth1126366
Rice11234138
Crow Wing11003122
Chisago974676
Kandiyohi9660106
Otter Tail9611126
Benton8815124
Beltrami801794
Goodhue786596
Douglas7689100
Itasca752796
Mower721349
Winona702756
McLeod694483
Isanti681383
Steele669431
Morrison663479
Becker620873
Polk591684
Freeborn550846
Carlton529474
Nobles521654
Lyon518761
Mille Lacs516573
Nicollet510960
Pine500641
Cass491252
Todd483642
Brown465057
Le Sueur445933
Meeker422357
Martin378143
Wabasha366010
Waseca365132
Dodge351511
Hubbard349848
Roseau307931
Fillmore299115
Wadena298239
Redwood277845
Houston266817
Renville264151
Faribault253032
Pennington247529
Sibley246917
Kanabec241536
Cottonwood225032
Chippewa216342
Aitkin215850
Pope203210
Watonwan194920
Yellow Medicine185423
Rock174728
Swift169322
Koochiching168123
Stevens164511
Jackson159216
Clearwater155720
Marshall151122
Murray150911
Pipestone148329
Lake129824
Lac qui Parle120025
Wilkin119416
Mahnomen104714
Norman10389
Grant9719
Big Stone9365
Lincoln8705
Kittson71523
Red Lake70710
Traverse5996
Unassigned572124
Lake of the Woods5235
Cook3020

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 520452

Reported Deaths: 7289
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk80319799
Linn32142424
Scott26637292
Black Hawk21974378
Woodbury20490258
Johnson19778105
Dubuque18515241
Pottawattamie15890213
Dallas15320113
Story1380258
Warren8450104
Cerro Gordo7964123
Clinton7725114
Webster7326122
Des Moines7098105
Marshall669093
Muscatine6645117
Wapello6441144
Jasper619591
Sioux610177
Lee5908105
Marion557897
Buena Vista502149
Plymouth488388
Henry418655
Benton404859
Jones404862
Unassigned40470
Bremer395372
Washington391463
Boone389739
Carroll367755
Mahaska365365
Crawford353747
Dickinson314655
Jackson307747
Buchanan305741
Clay295536
Delaware294654
Kossuth289077
Fayette286353
Hardin284353
Tama279777
Page272533
Wright266149
Cedar265527
Hamilton259857
Winneshiek258143
Floyd255449
Clayton244459
Poweshiek237243
Madison234525
Harrison234379
Cass233466
Butler232744
Iowa229634
Jefferson223043
Mills220930
Winnebago215938
Hancock214639
Cherokee211347
Lyon206142
Appanoose205357
Allamakee203955
Calhoun196919
Shelby196442
Union191141
Humboldt185130
Grundy183637
Franklin183029
Mitchell182043
Chickasaw178922
Emmet178246
Louisa176953
Sac171026
Guthrie168137
Montgomery161745
Clarke160829
Keokuk150839
Palo Alto150532
Howard146824
Monroe142739
Ida130141
Greene127517
Davis124625
Lucas124426
Monona122939
Worth12139
Pocahontas120724
Adair114337
Osceola104818
Decatur101913
Taylor98514
Fremont95913
Van Buren93222
Wayne84525
Ringgold76729
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