Ronny Jackson, the White House physician who is Donald Trump’s pick to run the Department of Veterans Affairs, saw his already-tenuous nomination become even more precarious on Tuesday after the Associated Press obtained an internal 2012 report which called for Jackson and a fellow doctor to be removed from their White House roles over “severe and pervasive lack of trust in the leadership.”
News of the 2012 recommendation from the Navy Medical Inspector General came hours after Jackson was asked if there was any IG report about the allegations against him. “No, there was not,” he said.
According to the AP, a power struggle within the White House between Jackson and Dr. Jeffrey Kuhlman—who also served as a doctor to President Obama—resulted in “unprofessional behaviors” which staffers described as creating a sense of “being caught between parents going through a bitter divorce.” The six-page IG report—which the AP claimed to have read, but did not publish—reportedly concluded with a recommendation that Jackson, Kuhlman, or both, be replaced.
Earlier on Tuesday, President Trump hinted that he would understand if Jackson withdrew his nomination. He told reporters at a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron that he’d asked Jackson, “What do you need this for?”
“I don’t want to put a man through a process like this,” Trump added. “It’s too ugly and too disgusting,” and later mused that “If I were him...I wouldn’t do it.”
Jackson was nominated to run the VA by Trump despite having no large-scale administrative experience. He is supposed to replace former VA Secretary David Shulkin, who was ousted by the White House amidst a scandal over his personal spending, as well as his reluctance to privatize veterans’ healthcare options. Jackson said on Tuesday that he was looking forward to speaking with members of the Senate “and answering everyone’s questions.”
Late Tuesday afternoon, Jackson and Trump sat for a brief Oval Office meeting, after which the White House insisted it would not be withdrawing Jackson’s nomination.