Tester pushes back on Trump: 'I am not political'

Tester pushes back on Trump: 'I am not political'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterSchumer opted for modest rules reform after pushback from moderates The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Connected Commerce Council - Biden faces reporters as his agenda teeters Democrats' filibuster gambit unravels MORE on Thursday pushed back against President TrumpDonald TrumpPredictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure A review of President Biden's first year on border policy  Hannity after Jan. 6 texted McEnany 'no more stolen election talk' in five-point plan for Trump MORE’s prediction that the Montana Democrat would pay a political price for helping to defeat Trump's nominee to head the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Adm. Ronny Jackson.

“It’s not political. I am focused on making sure that we have the best person possible to run the VA. It’s a very, very important agency,” Tester told reporters.

Tester said he wants Trump to nominate someone else who will “push back against the folks who are going to privatize the VA.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump is believed to have fired VA Secretary David ShulkinDavid Jonathon ShulkinFormer VA secretaries propose National Warrior Call Day to raise military suicide awareness Biden's nominee for VA secretary isn't a veteran — does it matter? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Congress slogs toward COVID-19 relief, omnibus deal MORE in part because he did not support efforts to privatize more of the agency’s mission.

Tester spearheaded resistance in the Senate to Jackson, the White House physician to the president, whom Trump tapped to head an agency with 36,000 employees and a $186 billion budget.

Jackson’s nomination raised concerns on both sides of the aisle because he previously managed a staff of only 70 people.

Tester struck a heavy blow against Jackson Wednesday by releasing a memo detailing allegations of Jackson’s unprofessional behavior at the White House, such as drunkenness and loose handling of prescription drugs.

Tester said on Thursday Jackson made the right decision by withdrawing his name from consideration earlier in the morning.

“I believe he did,” Tester said.

Tester faces a potentially tough reelection this year in a state Trump won by 20 points in 2016.

The president predicted in an interview on "Fox & Friends" Thursday morning that Tester "has a big price to pay in Montana.”