Following White House physician Ronny Jackson’s decision to withdraw as the nominee to run the Veterans Affairs Department, President Donald Trump on Thursday told “Fox and Friends” that the next nominee will be “somebody great” with “political capability.”
“I do, actually,” Trump said when asked whether he had a replacement VA nominee in mind. “Better not give it — maybe I do it on the next call. I think we’ll have somebody great. Somebody that is more — look, the admiral is not a politician, which is what I liked. … Somebody with political capability, yes.”
Trump went on to praise Jackson, claiming all the allegations that have surfaced against him in recent days were “made up.” He then blamed Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) — the ranking Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee who, along with Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), was reviewing the allegations against Jackson — for the physician’s decision to drop out.
“For Jon Tester (D-MT) to start bringing up stuff like ‘candy man’ and the kind of things he was saying, well you know, that are statements that are made up,” he said. “There is no proof of this. And he has a perfect record. He has this beautiful record, unblemished. … I think Jon Tester has a big price to pay in Montana. I don’t think people in Montana — the admiral is the kind of person that they respect and admire. And they don’t like seeing what’s happened to him.”
He then bragged about his popularity in Montana — “a state I won by over 20 points, you know they love me and I love them.”
Trump also revealed that he told Jackson “a day or two ago” to brace for the impact of “false accusations.”
“I saw where this was going,” he said.
Jackson announced Thursday morning that he was withdrawing his nomination as VA head, and denied all the allegations that have been lobbed against him in recent days. Both Tester and Isakson were vetting allegations from current and former military people who complained of a hostile work environment under Jackson as well as the physician’s alleged issues with “excessive drinking” on the job and improper dispensing of medications.