Washington (AFP) – Presidential doctor Ronny Jackson vows to continue his bid to run the Department of Veterans Affairs Wednesday, despite a fresh slew of scandalous allegations concerning his behavior.
Jackson told reporters his shock nomination for the cabinet position was “still moving ahead as planned” — despite being accused of improperly handing out drugs and being drunk at work.
Trump surprised even his closest aides a month ago with an evening tweet announcing the Navy rear admiral was his pick to run the 370,000-plus person department.
Jackson was the physician to presidents Trump, Barack Obama and George W. Bush and was well regarded by many current and former White House staff.
But he was widely seen as vastly underqualified to run a notoriously dysfunctional government department and already faced a tough battle for Congressional confirmation.
Since the announcement a tidal wave of allegations have surfaced over his behavior, from passing out at work, to dolling out drugs to staffers like the “candy man” to crashing a government vehicle.
Senate Democrats released a litany of allegations on Wednesday, citing “conversations with 23 colleagues and former colleagues.”
The allegations included handing out sleeping tablets on Air Force One, opioids to at least one White House staffer and prescribing drugs for himself.
“On at least one occasion, Dr. Jackson could not be reached when needed because he was passed out drunk in his hotel room,” a document released by Senator Jon Tester claimed.
Amid this fresh wave of allegations Jackson huddled with chief of staff John Kelly and press secretary Sarah Sanders at the White House on Wednesday, emerging from the meeting seemingly determined to fight on.
With an intimate knowledge of presidents and top White House aides across three administrations, his confirmation hearings, if they go ahead, could prove explosive.
Grueling foreign presidential trips — involving long flights, back-to-back meetings and little or no sleep — were apparently notorious for the use of sleeping aids and alcohol.
And as the doctor to three presidents, Jackson could also face questions about how he treated and prescribed drugs to them.