Source: VA pick got drunk during overseas trip

During an overseas trip in 2015, Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, the White House physician, was intoxicated and banged on the hotel room door of a female employee, according to four sources familiar with the allegation

Posted: Apr 27, 2018 12:41 AM
Updated: Apr 27, 2018 12:41 AM

As Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson fights to salvage his nomination to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, Republicans in Congress are staying on the fence Wednesday, remaining unwilling to defend the White House physician but not yet ready to abandon him.

"You don't just want to have somebody withdraw because there's an allegation. Nobody will ever get through this system," said Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

He added, "So the question is: Are they credible allegations? Give him a chance to tell his side of the story," he continued. "Let the committee determine, you know, how serious they are."

Graham, a close ally of Jackson's, was previously scheduled to introduce the rear admiral at his confirmation hearing that was set for Wednesday, but the Veterans Affairs Committee postponed it to further investigate allegations of professional misconduct, ranging from being drunk on the job to improper handling of prescriptions.

While the committee is looking into the claims, it has not substantiated them, with little documentation available to corroborate them. Jackson has given no signs that he plans to withdraw his nomination, telling reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday that he can "absolutely" address the allegations. "I'm looking forward to rescheduling the hearing and answering everyone's questions.

President Donald Trump defended him at a news conference Tuesday as "one of the finest people I have ever met" and said it is "totally his decision" on whether Jackson wants to withdraw.

Georgia Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson, the chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, said Wednesday he still plans to hold a hearing for Jackson, though he didn't provide a sense of timing.

"The nominee deserves the chance to be heard. The President deserves a right for them to be heard. And the veterans deserve that we do our job," he told CNN. "We're going to give a good hearing, make the right decision, move forward, and we're going to do it in our schedule -- not on anybody else's."

But in the meantime, senators on both sides of the aisle want to dig deep on the claims. "My impression is that everyone is looking for the truth," said Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican.

Sen. Mike Rounds, a GOP member of the committee, told CNN the sources of the information are "credible" but the allegations still need to be fully investigated.

"When you have these types of accusations or allegations that are being made by some individuals with a lot of credibility, then you want to follow them through," he said. "You want to find out what's going on."

The top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, said Wednesday on CNN that the committee is attempting to do just that, saying "we need to get to the bottom of these accusations to find out if they're true."

'Wait-and-see mode'

Republican lawmakers and aides have grown increasingly frustrated with the administration over the last several days -- something tied in part to the unconventional nomination itself and the lack of congressional consultation before it was made.

For days Republican aides described several senators who reached out to the White House for answers to the allegations -- only to receive little, if any, information about the veracity and severity of the situation or whether the White House was even aware of the extent of the claims, the aides said.

White House talking points defending Jackson only landed in Senate Republican inboxes Tuesday evening, multiple aides said. That has only served to further zap the willingness to go to bat for a nominee who was already lacking natural allies on the Hill.

"We're willing to keep our powder dry," one senior aide said, "But you aren't going to see many of our guys go out of their way to defend him until we get answers."

For the moment, GOP senators declining to attack Jackson or call for his nomination to be pulled is the best the administration can likely hope for, one senior GOP aide said. "We're all in wait-and-see mode right now," the aide said. "We'll see how long that lasts."

Echoing that sentiment, Sen. John Cornyn, the Senate's No. 2 Republican, said he and his colleagues want to hold off until they know more. "The first question is: What are the facts?" he said. "I hate the idea of people's lives being ruined by unsubstantiated allegations."

Republican Sen. Rand Paul said, at this point, it "sounds like gossip."

"I don't know yet what to believe and what not to believe," he said on Fox News. "It will take longer for me to understand that situation."

Underscoring the direness of the nomination is the concern Republicans already had about Jackson, given his lack of experience in management and public policy.

But in another sign of Republicans being hesitant to jump ship, Republican Sen. Jeff Flake -- Trump's most vocal GOP critic in the Senate -- was not ready to call for Jackson to drop out of the running.

"That's not my call," he told CNN. "But it seems to be a difficult road ahead -- definitely."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 483790

Reported Deaths: 6543
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1003791583
Ramsey42945800
Dakota36091387
Anoka33200384
Washington21986254
Stearns18703200
St. Louis14746262
Scott13209107
Wright12489115
Olmsted1176188
Sherburne869772
Carver765240
Clay688887
Rice667191
Blue Earth591035
Kandiyohi578474
Crow Wing518381
Chisago496844
Otter Tail481370
Benton444890
Winona416649
Mower402731
Douglas392268
Nobles386547
Goodhue384468
Polk342262
McLeod338349
Beltrami336751
Morrison323547
Lyon312444
Itasca311646
Becker309941
Isanti305354
Carlton299848
Steele299211
Pine281916
Freeborn279823
Nicollet256041
Todd246330
Brown243537
Le Sueur233920
Mille Lacs226747
Cass219124
Waseca208617
Meeker206934
Martin188228
Wabasha18613
Roseau179617
Hubbard160640
Houston157114
Dodge15154
Renville149040
Redwood146527
Fillmore13708
Chippewa135935
Cottonwood134520
Pennington131816
Wadena130220
Faribault122716
Aitkin118733
Sibley117110
Watonwan11708
Rock115614
Kanabec107319
Pipestone101424
Yellow Medicine97617
Murray9438
Jackson93310
Swift87918
Pope8025
Marshall77615
Stevens7398
Lake73518
Clearwater71914
Lac qui Parle68216
Wilkin66910
Koochiching61711
Big Stone5163
Lincoln5052
Grant4908
Norman4768
Unassigned44568
Mahnomen4417
Kittson40821
Red Lake3625
Traverse3025
Lake of the Woods2161
Cook1180

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 361499

Reported Deaths: 5412
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58007549
Linn20606312
Scott18279207
Black Hawk16223290
Woodbury14924211
Johnson1380473
Dubuque13522194
Dallas1132690
Pottawattamie10762143
Story1018945
Warren553474
Clinton542484
Cerro Gordo532781
Webster517687
Marshall495572
Sioux493469
Buena Vista472736
Des Moines457061
Muscatine450691
Wapello4314108
Jasper416266
Plymouth394277
Lee374752
Marion358469
Jones294354
Henry293037
Carroll285348
Bremer279154
Crawford273435
Boone259130
Washington253747
Benton252054
Mahaska223846
Jackson221138
Dickinson217238
Tama212965
Kossuth208154
Clay193125
Hamilton191942
Delaware188639
Winneshiek188427
Buchanan184629
Fayette184335
Page182619
Hardin180839
Wright179531
Harrison179469
Cedar177023
Clayton168053
Butler165831
Mills162820
Floyd162740
Madison154018
Poweshiek153630
Cherokee153535
Hancock146729
Lyon145941
Allamakee144946
Iowa144223
Grundy138830
Appanoose138647
Jefferson138232
Winnebago137730
Calhoun133311
Cass133351
Mitchell130640
Louisa128341
Union126331
Chickasaw124813
Sac124218
Emmet120940
Shelby120433
Franklin118419
Humboldt117225
Guthrie116228
Palo Alto104921
Montgomery103936
Howard102821
Clarke100320
Unassigned9850
Keokuk97829
Monroe93128
Adair91928
Ida90832
Pocahontas85219
Davis82523
Monona81527
Greene76910
Lucas73221
Osceola70314
Worth6947
Taylor66312
Fremont5869
Decatur5749
Van Buren56018
Ringgold51820
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