During a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, President Trump advised his hand-picked choice to be secretary of veterans affairs, Ronny Jackson, to not take the job.
Jackson’s confirmation process is currently on indefinite hold because the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee is investigating allegations he oversaw a hostile work environment as the White House physician, allowed the over-prescribing of drugs, and drank too much on the job, according to the New York Times.
Those allegations are apparently news to Trump. During Tuesday’s news conference, the president admitted he didn’t know anything about them, but defended Jackson’s character. He said that he would “definitely stand behind him,” but then proceeded to advise him to not take the job.
“I would definitely stand behind him,” Trump said. “I’d let it be his choice, but he’s a man who has just been an extraordinary person — his family, extraordinary success, great doctor, great everything, and he has to listen to the abuse? I wouldn’t, if I were him — actually, in many ways I’d love to be him — but the fact is I wouldn’t do it, I wouldn’t do it.”
“What does he need it for?” Trump continued. “To be abused by a bunch of politicians that aren’t thinking nicely about our country? I really don’t think personally he should do it, but it’s totally his decision.”
While Trump was publicly advising him to note take the job, Jackson was reportedly on Capitol Hill meeting with senators in hopes of ultimately being confirmed.
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, Veterans Affairs Secretary nominee Dr. Ronny Jackson told reporters “I can answer the questions absolutely. I’m looking forward to rescheduling the hearing and answering everyone’s questions,” per @TheOtherKeppler
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 24, 2018
Jackson has no obvious qualifications to manage an agency with nearly 400,000 employees, but during a news conference about the president’s physical exam in January, he effusively praised Trump’s genetics and overall state of well-being.
REPORTER: How does a guy who eats McDonald's & all those Diet Cokes & never exercises be in as good of shape as you say he is?
PHYSICIAN: It's called genetics… he has incredible genes… I told him if he had a healthier diet over last 20 years he might live to be 200 years old pic.twitter.com/6zAPFioQ4D
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 16, 2018
Trump is unbothered by Jackson’s lack of experience.
“As far as experience is concerned, the veterans administration, which is approximately 13 million people, is so big, you could run the biggest hospital system in the world and it’s small time compared to the veterans administration,” Trump said on Tuesday. “So nobody has the experience.”
The Trump administration reportedly did little to no vetting of Jackson’s background before Trump announced his nomination to be the next VA secretary on Twitter.