GOP chairman ‘doesn’t have a problem’ with Tester’s handling of Jackson allegations

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Sen. Johnny Isakson (Ga.), the Republican chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, does not “have a problem” with how misconduct allegations against Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson were handled, his office said Saturday.

Jackson withdrew his nomination to be President Trump’s Veterans Affairs (VA) secretary after Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) circulated a series of accusations this week about his alleged misconduct as the White House physician, torpedoing his nomination.


Trump on Saturday ripped into the allegations while defending Jackson, saying there is no proof of several of the claims. The president used the incident to call for the resignation of Tester, who is running for reelection this year in a state won by Trump.

“Senator Isakson has a great relationship with Senator Tester,” a spokeswoman for Isakson told CNN following Trump’s tweets on Saturday. “He doesn’t have a problem with how things were handled. I don’t know for sure but highly doubt he’s seen the president’s tweets this morning.”

A CNN reporter later clarified that the spokesperson was reiterating the GOP senator’s feelings about Tester’s role in the Jackson confirmation process, something Isakson said on Thursday.  

“I think everyone has an obligation if they make a charge to release it. And everyone who is charged has a right to have a day in court to be heard,” Isakson said Thursday.

Tester’s staff compiled a report on the allegations against Jackson, which cited claims made by more than 20 people, including an accusation that Jackson “wrecked” a government vehicle after becoming intoxicated at a Secret Service going-away party, and a claim that he drunkenly banged on the hotel door of a female staffer during an official overseas trip during the Obama administration.

Trump tweeted Saturday morning that Tester should resign, citing the Secret Service and White House denials of the two alleged incidents.

“Allegations made by Senator Jon Tester against Admiral/Doctor Ron Jackson are proving false. The Secret Service is unable to confirm (in fact they deny) any of the phony Democrat charges which have absolutely devastated the wonderful Jackson family,” Trump tweeted. “Tester should resign.”

“The great people of Montana will not stand for this kind of slander when talking of a great human being,” he added. “Admiral Jackson is the kind of man that those in Montana would most respect and admire, and now, for no reason whatsoever, his reputation has been shattered. Not fair, Tester!”

Jackson has denied the allegations, but said in a statement about his withdrawal as Trump’s VA pick that they had “become a distraction” for Trump. 

Tester, against Trump’s criticism and backlash from other GOP lawmakers, has maintained that his actions are “not political.”

“I am focused on making sure that we have the best person possible to run the VA,” he told Politico. “It’s a very, very important agency.” 

– This story was updated at 2:44 p.m. to include additional information.

Tags Donald Trump Johnny Isakson Jon Tester
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