Home / U.S. / The accusations against Ronny Jackson still threaten to derail his military career

The accusations against Ronny Jackson still threaten to derail his military career

Rear Admiral Ronny L. Jackson leaves a meeting in the Senate. Jackson retired from consideration as secretary of veterans affairs on Thursday under a cloud of accusations about his previous behavior. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

Accusations of misconduct against former President Trump's candidate to head the Department of Veterans Affairs threatened on Thursday to derail his military career and his rise to two-star admiral, even after of the candidate, Rear Admiral Ronny. L. Jackson, retired from consideration for the position in the cabinet.

Jackson, the chief White House physician, withdrew from consideration for the post of veteran affairs secretary on Thursday morning and called the accusations "completely false and fabricated." of dispensing prescription drugs too freely, including the opiate store Percocet that "panicked" White House military officers when it disappeared, according to a list of allegations released Wednesday by Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) .

Tester, the senior member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, also broadcast accusations that there were "multiple incidents of intoxication in service," including one in which Jackson could not be located in his hotel room when it was necessary and a farewell party of the Secret Service in which Jackson "got drunk and destroyed a government vehicle" [19659000] [ The long list of accusations against Ronny Jackson, noted]

The accusations "must be reviewed and treated by the Department of Defense "before the Senate Armed Services Committee can consider its promotion nomination, said Chip Uhruh, spokesman for Senator Jack Reed (D.Conn.), the highest ranking member of the committee. Trump nominated Jackson in March for the promotion to the two-star admiral, before nominating him also a few weeks later to replace David Shulkin, the ousted veteran affairs secretary.

Senator. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also said Thursday that the committee will have questions he wants to answer, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R.-Wis.) Suggested to journalists that it would be "smart" to have an inspector general review the case.

Jackson withdrew from consideration of the veterans affairs post and ended a political crisis in the White House, but left several questions unanswered. Among them: if the accusations are all true, why did not they arise before? And with all the reports, will anyone in the Pentagon conduct an investigation to justify the accusations or erase Jackson's name?

Tester said the allegations were compiled in conversations with 23 colleagues and former colleagues, most of whom are still in the military. They raised questions about their ability to lead and personal ethics.

None of the most heinous accusations have been corroborated, and Trump and other senior White House officials have indicated that they support Jackson and plan to keep him in the White House. Some of the accusations date back to Jackson's time in the service of the Obama administration, a point that the White House has observed coldly.

But the US Army. UU It has a long history of unlawful acts committed by superior officers that rot away from the public eye, only to erupt at some point in an embarrassing manner. The allegations published by Tester suggest that his colleagues had expressed some concerns with the office of the Navy's general surgeon, the White House Military Office and the inspector general of the Department of Defense.

For days, the Pentagon has kept quiet about the accusations against Jackson, saying: it would be inappropriate to comment while his cabinet nomination was pending with the Senate. It is no longer, but defense officials on Thursday declined to comment on the issue or said they were reviewing what they could say.

President Trump shakes hands with Rear Admiral Ronny L. Jackson after his annual physical exam at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. (Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images)

Several entities could potentially investigate Jackson. Most likely he is the inspector general of the Department of Defense, given the high-profile nature of Jackson's case. Each branch of service has its own inspector general, but cases involving senior officers usually fall to the highest Pentagon watchdog body, which operates independently of the department.

The Navy itself also has an inspector general and the general surgeon of the Navy, Vice Adm. C. Forrest Faison III, has an interest in the case as head of the Office of Medicine and Surgery of the Navy. The inspector general of the medical office issued a 2012 review of the climate of the White House Medical Unit that raised questions about the leadership of both Jackson and his predecessor, Navy retired Captain Jeffrey Kuhlman. He recommended that one or both officers be removed. In a follow-up evaluation of 2013, he found a markedly improved moral under Jackson.

Service Members with proven allegations against them may receive advice from an officer of higher rank, a formal letter of reprimand or they may be forced to withdraw in their current rank. If the findings of an investigation are serious, the military can also, in exceptional cases, degrade officers while taking them out of military service. That comes through a process known as grade determination, in which the army determines the last rank in which an individual served satisfactorily.

This piece was originally published at 12:17 p.m. and it was updated with additional reports.

Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.


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