WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump on Tuesday defended his embattled nominee for veterans affairs secretary, Ronny L. Jackson, dismissing allegations that have delayed Jackson’s confirmation hearing while accusing lawmakers of “abusing” Jackson.
Trump went on to suggest that if he were in Jackson’s position, he would consider withdrawing his name from consideration to avoid being “abused by a bunch of politicians.”
Several news outlets have reported that Jackson has been accused of creating “a hostile work environment” and drinking on the job. “I haven’t heard of the particular allegations,” Trump said during a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Trump praised Jackson, currently the White House physician, as “one of the finest people that I have met” and “a great doctor.”
The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee is investigating the unsubstantiated allegations against Jackson, and on Tuesday announced that it would postpone his confirmation hearings. Committee chair Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and ranking member Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) did not specify when the hearings, originally slated to begin on Wednesday, would be rescheduled.
Trump seemed to suggest that Jackson, his pick to succeed fired VA Secretary David Shulkin, should drop out, but that it was ultimately his decision.
“He has to listen to the abuse,” Trump continued. “I wouldn’t do it. What does he need it for? To be abused by a bunch of politicians.”
Lawmakers have also raised questions about Jackson’s lack of managerial experience and have blamed the White House for poor vetting of top officials.
“It’s really frustrating to me that this administration continues to not vet or sloppily send over a nominee that leaves us having to really vet them and look at serious questions,” committee member Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) told reporters.
This story has been updated with comment from Patty Murray.