White House: Records dispute allegations against Jackson
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House said Friday that internal records raise doubt about some of the most serious allegations leveled against White House doctor Ronny Jackson in his failed bid to become the next secretary of Veterans Affairs.
Jackson withdrew his nomination Thursday after allegations by current and former colleagues raised questions about his prescribing practices and leadership ability, including accusations of drunkenness on the job. Democratic Sen. Jon Tester’s office collected the allegations, which included a claim that Jackson “got drunk and wrecked a government vehicle” at a Secret Service going-away party.
The records, including police reports, show Jackson was in three minor vehicle incidents in government vehicles during the last five years, but none involved the use of alcohol and he was not found to be at fault. In one case, a side-view mirror was clipped by a passing truck. In another incident an enraged driver in Montgomery County, Maryland, allegedly punched out Jackson’s window during a morning drive to Camp David.
The White House medical unit that Jackson ran successfully passed regular controlled substance audits, according to the records for the last three years. The reviews did recommend improvements to the medical unit’s handling of controlled substances, but did not find misconduct.
The Associated Press reviewed the documents Friday. They were the result of an internal White House review of allegations raised against Jackson during his brief confirmation process. The White House says the records, covering recent years, disprove the allegations.
But Tester’s office has not specified the time frame during which the alleged misconduct occurred. Tester spokeswoman Marnee Banks said the office would not comment until it knew more about the White House records.
Separately, the Secret Service said it has no evidence to support an allegation that its personnel intervened to prevent Jackson from disturbing former President Barack Obama during a foreign trip in 2015.
In a statement dated Thursday, the Secret Service said it had conducted a “thorough review” of internal documents related to Obama’s foreign trips in 2015 and interviewed people who were present. The agency said it has found “no information that would indicate the allegation is accurate” and no record of any incident involving Jackson.
CNN had reported allegations that Jackson drunkenly banged on the hotel room door of a female employee and that Secret Service personnel intervened out of concern that he would wake Obama.
Jackson has denied the accusations, calling them “baseless and anonymous attacks” on his character and integrity that are “completely false and fabricated.”
And President Donald Trump has repeatedly come to Jackson’s defense.
Asked about the situation at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump called it “an absolute disgrace.”
“These were false accusations about a great man; about a man who has a son who’s a top student at Annapolis; about a man that’s given his life to this country, and to the military — a brave man. He would have been a great leader,” Trump complained, noting that he, Obama and former President George W. Bush had all praised the doctor’s conduct in the past.
Trump said he’d called Jackson earlier Friday and told him that he was “an American hero” because he’d “exposed the system for some horrible things.”
He also drew a parallel with the investigation into Russian meddling into the 2016 campaign, saying he, too, had been victimized, by “the Russian collusion hoax.”
Trump said he is considering a number of potential replacements, including “some very political people” who might be better equipped to handle the scrutiny that comes with a nomination.
The Democratic staff on the committee considering Jackson’s nomination also claimed Jackson had doled out such a large supply of a prescription opioid that staffers panicked because they thought the drugs were missing.
They said their allegations were based on conversations with 23 of Jackson’s current and former colleagues at the White House Medical Unit.