Thursday 17 January 2019

President's pick as veterans' chief sunk by booze claims

Rear-Admiral Ronny Jackson. Photo: Reuters
Rear-Admiral Ronny Jackson. Photo: Reuters

Ben Riley-Smith

Donald Trump's choice for veterans' affairs secretary has withdrawn from consideration after a string of claims of heavy drinking and inappropriate behaviour surfaced.

Navy Rear-Admiral Ronny Jackson, the current White House physician, criticised the "baseless and anonymous attacks on my character and integrity" and called the allegations "false and fabricated".

Mr Jackson reportedly underwent no interview or vetting before Mr Trump picked him to head up America's second biggest government department. He also lacks any top-level political experience.


In a statement, Mr Jackson said: "Unfortunately, because of how Washington works, these false allegations have become a distraction for this president and the important issue we must be addressing, how we give the best care to our nation's heroes."

He said he expected "tough questions" about his qualifications, "but I did not expect to have to dignify baseless and anonymous attacks on my character and integrity".

Mr Trump told Fox News that the way Mr Jackson had been treated was a "disgrace" and said he "saw where this was going".

The decision came after Mr Jackson's hearing before a Senate committee was delayed as a string of claims about his behaviour was submitted by former employees.

These included allegations that Mr Jackson once crashed a car after getting drunk and was known as "Candy Man" in the White House for the way he would hand out medication.

The claims - which were made anonymously - also included criticism of his managerial approach, which was described as "kiss up, kick down" in one comment.

Mr Jackson did not respond fully to the claims as they mounted up in recent days but rejected them in his statement announcing his departure. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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