Senator offers new details on allegations against VA nominee
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Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterNative American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment House Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 Budget deal sparks scramble to prevent shutdown MORE (D-Mont.) on Tuesday provided new details about the allegations facing Ronny Jackson, President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE’s embattled nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Tester said the allegations against Jackson center on three things.

"Well, they fall in three different areas: improper dispensing of prescription drugs, repeatedly drunk while on duty while traveling and creating a toxic work environment," Tester, the top Democrat on the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, told NPR's "All Things Considered."


Tester's remarks are some of the most detailed public comments senators have offered since the decision to postpone Jackson’s confirmation hearing.

He said the committee had heard from more than 20 individuals either actively in the military or retired from the military. Democratic Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBank watchdogs approve rule to loosen ban on risky Wall Street trades Dayton mayor assigned extra security following verbal spat with Trump The Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape MORE (Ohio) separately told reporters earlier Tuesday that number of individuals contacting the committee about Jackson was in the double digits.

"I think we heard the same story from enough people repeatedly that there's a lot of smoke there," Tester said.

Jackson is an active-duty Navy admiral who has been the physician to the president since 2013.

He met with Trump at the White House on Tuesday, but reportedly is not considering withdrawing his nomination. 

Yet even before the allegations against him, Jackson was facing an uphill climb to confirmation, with senators broadly skeptical about his lack of large-scale management experience.

Tester told NPR that he spoke on Monday to White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE, who denied the allegations against Jackson.

"He said, 'you know these are just claims. There's no truth to it.' My comment to him was, 'we need to get to the bottom of it,'" Tester said. 

Tester and Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonGeorgia senator discharged from hospital after fall Georgia senator hospitalized after fall Senate GOP raises concerns about White House stopgap plan to avoid shutdown MORE (R-Ga.), the chairman of the panel, have requested the White House turn over information on Jackson. 

Pressed on the three areas of allegations, Tester said Jackson allegedly created "an environment where the staff felt like they needed to walk on eggshells." 

"Some of the exact words were that were used ... were abusive toward staff, very explosive personality. Belittles the folks underneath him. ... Screamed toward staff," he said.

Tester added that the allegations of drinking while on duty involve while Jackson was traveling.

"In the previous administration we were told stories where he was repeatedly drunk while on duty where his main job was to take care of the most powerful man in the world. That's not acceptable," he said.

Jackson told reporters earlier Tuesday that he was "disappointed" his hearing had been canceled but "looked forward" to answering senator’s questions.

"I'm looking forward to the hearings, so we can sit down and I can explain everything to everyone and answer all the senators' questions," he said, asked if he "categorically denied" the allegations.