The Pentagon has started an investigation into allegations of improper behavior against Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, who was until last week President Donald Trump’s personal physician and his nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Defense Department’s Office of Inspector General is conducting the probe and will determine if further investigation or action should be taken, Pentagon spokesman Tom Crosson said in a statement Tuesday, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Trump tapped Jackson for VA Secretary in April, a move that drew criticism over Jackson’s lack of experience managing large organizations. In the run-up to Jackson’s confirmation hearing, Democrats on the Senate Veterans Affairs committee received reports accusing him of mistreating subordinates, drinking to excess on overseas trips, and improperly dispensing prescription drugs to White House staffers.
Jackson, who withdrew from consideration for VA secretary on Thursday, called the allegations “completely false and fabricated.” His supporters, including a former head of the Secret Service’s presidential protection unit, said he was well-qualified to run the VA and characterized allegations against him as a smear campaign.
Pentagon officials have not described the nature of the allegations that will be investigated, nor their source. The Navy only learned of the accusations when they were presented by Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana during Jackson’s nomination fight, the Pentagon said.
New concerns over Jackson’s professional conduct emerged Tuesday, when CNN reported that Vice President Mike Pence’s military physician had privately raised concerns within the White House that Jackson violated federal privacy protections for Pence’s wife, Karen. In a series of memos, Pence’s doctor accused Jackson of inappropriately intervening in a medical situation involving the second lady and disclosing details to other medical providers without first consulting him.
Meanwhile, Jackson has resumed his work at the White House Medical Unit, but no longer leads that group, according to the White House. He was nominated by Trump in March to the rank of two-star rear admiral and remains a candidate for the second star, the Navy said.
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