Trump Blasts Vetting Process, Media for Troubled VA Pick. That’s Not How It Works.

He also appeared to hint that Ronny Jackson withdraw from the job he nominated him for.

Chris Kleponis/ZUMA

President Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to suggest that amid recently surfaced allegations of workplace misconduct, Ronny Jackson, his embattled pick for Veterans Affairs secretary, should withdraw his nomination, calling it “totally” Jackson’s decision. The president also characterized the vetting process for cabinet nominations as the work of a “vicious group of people that malign”—a likely reference to members of the media and bipartisan lawmakers leading the vetting process.

“I told Admiral Jackson just a little while ago, I said, ‘What do you need this for?’ This is a vicious group of people that malign—and they do and I live through it, we all live through it,” Trump told reporters at a news conference alongside French President Emmanuel Macron. “You people are getting record ratings because of it, so congratulations.”

“He’s an admiral, he’s a great leader,” the president continued. “They question him about every little thing.”

Trump took aim at the routine scrutinization that reportedly prompted the bombshell accusations surrounding Jackson to emerge—ignoring the fact that the president himself put Jackson in the position of facing the rigorous process without having properly vetted his choice beforehand. “I don’t want to put a man through a process like this,” he said. “It’s too ugly and too disgusting.” 

Jackson, a combat veteran who has worked as a White House physician for 12 years, has been under intense scrutiny amid allegations from White House medical staff that include excessive drinking on the job and improperly prescribing drugs. The claims threaten what was already a fraught nomination, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressing serious concerns over Jackson’s glaring lack of management experience to lead a historically troubled department.

During his remarks as he stood with French president Macron on Tuesday, Trump acknowledged that Jackson had an “experience problem,” though he denied having knowledge of the specific allegations that first surfaced Monday. Trump’s afternoon remarks appeared to undercut the White House statement earlier in the day expressing confidence in Jackson’s record of “strong, decisive leadership.”


The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.