Ronny Jackson, it appears, made many, many enemies during his rise as a Navy medical officer that ultimately landed him a gig as the physician to the president of the United States. Donald Trump, however, was not one of those many, many detractors. Trump was so enamored with Jackson, a square-jawed doctor with a nose for the political winds, that Trump tried to hand Jackson a spot in his Cabinet in 2018, as the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Jackson’s nomination, however, was ultimately scuttled when former colleagues and subordinates began expressing how they really felt about Jackson.
What emerged was an unflattering portrait of a maniacal boss who liked the sauce, not to mention the odd sleeping pill, all of which resulted in numerous inappropriate interactions with female subordinates and co-workers. The blowback was sufficient to prompt an investigation by the Department of Defense inspector general’s office, which, after years of digging, confirmed a number of grisly details about Jackson, who with Trump’s backing ran and won a seat in Congress last year representing the Texas panhandle.
The IG report is dropping Wednesday, but CNN got a sneak peek and reported ahead of the damning report’s release that Jackson made “ ‘sexual and denigrating’ comments about a female subordinate, violated the policy for drinking alcohol while on a presidential trip and took prescription-strength sleeping medication that prompted concerns from his colleagues about his ability to provide proper care.” Jackson served during both the Trump and Obama administrations, and the investigation was launched in 2018 after his failed nomination to run the VA. “After interviewing 78 witnesses and reviewing a host 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 involving the use of alcohol during two incidents and used sleeping medication during an overseas trip that raised concerns about his ability to provide medical care to the President and other top officials,” CNN says of the report.
Here’s how the report characterized Jackson as a colleague and boss:
“overwhelming majority of witnesses (56) … who worked with RDML Jackson from 2012 through 2018 told us they personally experienced, saw, or heard about him yelling, screaming, cursing, or belittling subordinates,” the report says. “Many of these witnesses described RDML Jackson’s behavior with words and phrases such as ‘meltdowns,’ ‘yells’ for no reason,’ ‘rages,’ ‘tantrums,’ ‘lashes out,’ and ‘aggressive.’ These witnesses also described RDML Jackson’s leadership style with terms such as ‘tyrant,’ ‘dictator,’ ‘control freak,’ ‘hallmarks of fear and intimidation,’ ‘crappy manager,’ and ‘not a leader at all,’ ” it adds.
Jackson’s boozy behavior on foreign presidential trips was also questionable. Via CNN:
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 that Jackson became intoxicated and made inappropriate comments about a female medical subordinate.
A witness interviewed by the IG said that shortly after arriving in Manila, Jackson began drinking in the hotel lobby, then got into a car with a drink in his hand “to go out on the town.” Another witness said he could smell alcohol on Jackson’s breath later that evening. Back at the hotel, one of the witnesses said he saw Jackson “pounding” on the door of his female subordinate’s room. When she opened the door, Jackson said, “I need you,” and, “I need you to come to my room.”
And then there was the sleeping drug Ambien. Via CNN:
At least six witnesses, all of whom were medical personnel, also told investigators that Jackson took Ambien, a prescription medicine used to treat insomnia, on long flights while on duty for providing medical care for government officials, including the President. The witnesses said they were concerned about the Ambien because it often leaves users drowsy and can impair someone’s mental alertness.
“Three years ago I was the subject of a political hit job because I stood with President Trump,” Jackson said in a written statement in response to the coming report. “Today, a Department of Defense Inspector General report has resurrected those same false allegations from my years with the Obama Administration because I have refused to turn my back on President Trump.”