A new memo from the top Democrat on the Veterans Affairs Committee contains a slew of new allegations against President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer defense secretary Esper sues Pentagon in memoir dispute Biden celebrates start of Hanukkah Fauci says lies, threats are 'noise' MORE’s pick to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, including that he passed out controlled substances to anyone who asked.
Witnesses allege that Ronny Jackson wrote himself prescriptions and on at least one occasion during the Obama presidency, “could not be reached when needed because he was passed out drunk in his hotel room,” according to the memo.
The newest report alleges that at one point, Jackson provided a “large supply” of the opioid painkiller Percocet to a White House military office staff member. When Jackson’s medical staff discovered the missing tablets, it threw them “into a panic,” according to the report.
Jackson is also accused of handing out the prescription sleeping drug Ambien, as well as Provigil, a stimulant, on Air Force One without noting a patient’s medical history. The report notes those drugs are “controlled substances that require tracking.”
In addition, the report claims Jackson "got drunk and wrecked a government vehicle" at a Secret Service going-away party.
Jackson on Wednesday denied that he crashed a car and said his nomination is “moving ahead as planned.”
“I never wrecked a car," Jackson told reporters at the White House, adding that he has "no idea where that is coming from."
Brian McKeon, the former chief of staff for Obama's National Security Council, said the use of Ambien was common, particularly on long overnight flights, and by people who were having trouble sleeping.
McKeon said he asked for some on multiple occasions.
"People work long hours in the White House to begin with, especially before a big overseas trip, and then are expected to function for a full day after a night of flying, and it’s hard to sleep on planes," McKeon said in an email.
But McKeon said he never saw Jackson drunk on the numerous domestic trips he took with the president.
"Not even sure I ever saw him take a drink," McKeon said.
The two-page report from the staff of Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterFive ways Senate could change Biden's spending plan Five Senate Democrats reportedly opposed to Biden banking nominee Dark money group spent 0M on voter turnout in 2020 MORE (D-Mont.) includes allegations that arose from conversations committee staff had with 23 colleagues and former colleagues of Rear Admiral Jackson, “most of whom are still in uniform.”
It provides more details on the three categories of accusations leveled against Jackson: improper prescribing practices, creating a hostile work environment and drunkenness on the job.
For example, the report said individuals in Jackson’s office “noted a constant fear of reprisal.”
Jackson's colleagues described him as “the most unethical person I have ever worked with.” They said he would have “screaming tantrums” and “screaming fits," and was someone who would “lose his mind over small things." The day-to-day environment in his office was like "walking on eggshells," current and former colleagues told committee staff.
The new report raises more questions about Trump’s nominee, who was already facing bipartisan skepticism about his ability to lead one of the largest and most-troubled federal agencies.
A confirmation hearing for Jackson scheduled for Wednesday was postponed earlier in the week when allegations of workplace misconduct first became public. Tester expanded on those allegations in an interview Tuesday evening on NPR, saying Jackson was "repeatedly drunk while on duty" and screamed at and belittled his staff.
Senators haven’t said that the allegations are enough to sink Jackson’s nomination, and both Tester and committee chairman Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonHerschel Walker calls off fundraiser with woman who had swastika in Twitter profile Georgia reporter says state will 'continue to be a premier battleground' Critical race theory becomes focus of midterms MORE (R-Ga.) have indicated they would still like to see Jackson get a hearing.
“Oh, I think there’s a possible he could be confirmable. Now, he has some issues other than these issues that I think both sides of the aisle are concerned about," Tester said in an MSNBC interview Wednesday.
None of the allegations have been fully confirmed by the committee, and some senators have expressed concern about the nature of the anonymous claims against Jackson.
“There’s a lot of allegations out there… I’ve seen none of them, I’ve seen no one who’s come forward,” Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranDemocrats face squeeze on Biden's spending bill Senators seek to permanently expand telehealth eligibility Senate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair MORE (R-Kan.) said. “I’ve seen no report that demonstrates that any allegations have merit.”
Jackson, an active-duty Naval officer, served as White House physician during the past three administrations. He was promoted to serve as the physician to former President Obama and is currently Trump’s doctor. Prior to his service in the White House, Jackson was a combat medic in Iraq.
The White House has mounted a full defense of Jackson and has requested that senators reschedule his confirmation hearing as soon as possible.
That defense began on Tuesday night, when administration officials distributed handwritten notes of praise from President Obama, saying Jackson " has earned my complete trust and respect."
A senior administration official said the accusations against Jackson were coming from a “bitter ex-colleague who was removed from his job.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday continued to back Jackson, saying record is “impeccable” and that he was aggressively vetted.
“He has received more vetting than most nominees,” Sanders said.
Neither Sanders nor Jackson commented on allegations first reported by CNN that Jackson once drunkenly banged on the door of a staff member’s hotel room in the middle of the night while on an overseas trip.
Jordan Fabian and Brett Samuels contributed to this report which was updated at 8:35 p.m.
2018-04-25 SVAC Summary of Allegations on Scribd