Ronny Jackson, Trump's Doctor, Targeted by Scandals (2018) 3:13
The Defense Department inspector general has issued a scathing report on how long Rep. Ronny Jackson was the White House's chief physician.
It found that Jackson made "sexual and degrading" comments about a subordinate, violated policy by drinking alcohol while on a presidential trip, and took prescription sleep medication that raised concerns from colleagues about his ability to provide adequate care.
The findings outlined in the report, which was obtained by CNN ahead of its expected release Wednesday, come from a years-long inspector general investigation into Jackson, who currently represents Texas in the House of Representatives and sits on the U.S. subcommittee. House Armed Services, Overseeing Military Personnel, which launched in 2018 and examines allegations dating back to their time in service during the Obama and Trump administrations.
Members of Congress were briefed on the findings of the inspector's report on Tuesday, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
In a statement to CNN on Tuesday, Jackson claimed the report was politically motivated, saying the inspector general "resurrected" the old allegations against him because he refused to "turn his back on President (Donald) Trump," who was a a vocal supporter of his bid for Congress in 2020. He also told CNN that he rejects "any allegation that I consumed alcohol while I was working."
After interviewing 78 witnesses and reviewing a series of White House documents, investigators concluded that Jackson, who achieved the rank of Rear Admiral, failed to treat his subordinates with dignity and respect, engaged in inappropriate conduct that involved drinking alcohol during two incidents and he used sleeping medication during a trip abroad that raised concerns about his ability to provide medical care to the president and other senior officials, according to the report.
The report also notes that the Jackson investigation "was limited in scope and unproductive," as the White House attorney under Trump insisted on being present at all interviews of current White House Medical Unit employees, thereby which had a "possible chilling effect" on the investigation.
"We determined that the possible chilling effect of their presence would prevent us from receiving accurate testimony," the report states, adding that field work was halted for approximately 10 months, between October 11, 2018 and August 22, 2019. while the Defense Department inspector general and the White House attorney determined whether the White House would invoke executive privilege, which it ultimately failed to do.
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Zolpidem (Ambien) and alcohol on trips with the president
Still, the conclusions about Jackson's behavior are shocking.
Accusations of his explosive temper and the creation of a hostile work environment are constant throughout his time in both the Obama and Trump administrations, as an "overwhelming majority of witnesses (56) ... who worked with Rear Admiral Jackson from 2012 to 2018 told us that they personally experienced, saw or heard from him yelling, cursing or belittling his subordinates, ”the report says.
"Many of these witnesses described Jackson's behavior with words and phrases such as 'breakdowns', 'screaming' for no reason, 'rages', 'tantrums', 'lunges' and 'aggressive'.
These witnesses also described Jackson's leadership style with terms such as' tyrant ',' dictator ',' control freak ',' hallmarks of fear and intimidation ',' sh * t manager 'and' not a leader in absolute, '"he adds.
On a presidential trip to Manila from April 22, 2014 to April 29, 2014, four witnesses who traveled with then-President Barack Obama and Jackson said Jackson was getting drunk and making inappropriate comments about a medical subordinate.
A witness interviewed by the inspector general said that shortly after arriving in Manila, Jackson started drinking in the hotel lobby and then got into a car with a drink "to go out into town".
Another witness said he could smell the alcohol on Jackson's breath later that night.
Back at the hotel, one of the witnesses said he saw Jackson "banging" on the door of his subordinate's room.
When he opened the door, Jackson said, "I need you" and "I need you to come to my room."
Witnesses also alleged that Jackson made a comment about the breasts and buttocks of a medical subordinate during a presidential trip to Asia in April 2014. “Witness 1, a medical subordinate, told us that during the trip to Asia, prior to Arriving in Manila, Jackson told him that a medical subordinate (Witness 2), who was also on the trip, had 'good t * tass' and 'what a nice c * lo', and that Jackson also told the Manila Witness 1 that he would 'like to see more of his tattoos,' "says the report.
Two years later, in Bariloche, Argentina, two witnesses told the inspector general that they saw Jackson drinking a beer while serving as the president's physician and in charge of providing medical care for a presidential trip, despite regulations being issued. they prohibited it from 24 hours before the arrival of the president until two hours after his departure.
Jackson, witnesses said, dismissed the regulation as "ridiculous."
Another witness said Jackson later smelled of alcohol, though she wasn't sure if he was drunk.
A witness, identified in the report as "Witness 5 from Bariloche," said Jackson did not smell alcohol to him during the trip.
Both of these accusations of alcohol use occurred under the Obama administration, but the report details a series of incidents in both the Obama and Trump terms in which Jackson lost his temper and insulted his subordinates.
Of the 60 witnesses interviewed by the Department of Defense Inspector General about the command environment under Jackson, only 13 had positive comments, while 38 spoke of unprofessional behavior, intimidation and mistreatment of subordinates.
One witness said Jackson "established a workplace where fear and intimidation were a kind of hallmark of him, his command, and the control of his subordinates."
At least six witnesses, all of them medical personnel, also told investigators that Jackson took zolpidem (known as Ambien in the US), a prescription drug used to treat insomnia, on long flights while on duty to provide health care for government officials, including the president.
Witnesses said they were concerned about the drug because it often leaves users drowsy and can affect someone's mental alertness.
But the inspector's report notes that there are no specific restrictions on the use of Ambien during long flights.
Recommends that the White House Military Office publish guidance on the proper use of zolpidem (Ambien) and similar drugs.
However, the report did not substantiate an allegation that Jackson had wrecked a government vehicle, a claim that had added to the collapse of his attempt to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs under the Trump administration.
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Jackson claims the report is politically motivated
Jackson retired from the Navy in 2019 while the inspector's investigation was still ongoing, but two defense officials told CNN he could now face a Navy review of his retirement salary.
Retirement pay for the military is based on the highest rank in which a person served with honor.
If the report's findings validate less than honorable behavior, Jackson could see his retirement salary reduced.
The inspector general's report recommends that the Secretary of the Navy take "appropriate action" regarding Jackson.
"We recommend that the director of the White House Military Office issue a service skills guide regarding the appropriate use of Ambien and similar medications while medical personnel are on duty or on call to provide emergency medical services," it says. .
In his statement to CNN on Tuesday, Jackson said that "the Democrats are using this report to repeat and refute false attacks on my integrity."
“I am proud of the work environment that I fostered under three different presidents of both parties;
I take seriously my professional responsibility regarding prescription drug practices;
and I strongly reject any accusation that I consumed alcohol while on duty, ”Jackson said.
«My whole professional life has been defined by duty and service.
I have served my country honorably in the United States Navy, I have served patients who trusted me for their care, served three Presidents in the White House, and now I serve the people of Texas District 13 in Congress.
I have not behaved and will never behave in a way that undermines the sincerity with which I take my oath to my country or my constituents, "he added.
CNN previously reported that the inspector general's investigation focused on allegations that Jackson was periodically drunk and mishandling prescription drugs.
Trump re-nominated Jackson for a second star, an increase in his military rank, in February 2019, although that promotion was not approved by the Senate.
This came less than a year after Jackson withdrew from consideration as Trump's candidate for secretary of Veterans Affairs on allegations that he was "abusive" to colleagues, lightly handled prescription painkillers and periodically drunk.
Jackson had denied all the allegations made against him, calling them "completely false and fabricated."
Former Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer approved Jackson's retirement before his own impeachment in late 2019, a senior defense official previously told CNN.