Trump Says He Could Sink Jon Tester by Saying Things About Him
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump continued to lash out against Senator Jon Tester for the Montana Democrat’s role in ending the nomination of White House physician Ronny Jackson to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
Jackson on Thursday withdrew from consideration to run the sprawling Veterans Affairs department a day after Tester released a document with a long list of alleged transgressions.
“I know things about Tester that I could say too,” Trump said Saturday night at a campaign-style rally in Washington, Michigan. “And if I said ’em, he’d never be elected again.”
Earlier, Trump said on Twitter that Tester, who’s running for re-election in November, was “dishonest and sick” and “should resign.”
“Allegations made by Senator Jon Tester against Admiral/Doctor Ron Jackson are proving false,” Trump said Saturday in a tweet, “The Secret Service is unable to confirm (in fact they deny) any of the phony Democrat charges which have absolutely devastated the wonderful Jackson family.”
A review of Jackson’s vehicle records found no evidence to support allegations that he wrecked a government car, a White House official late Friday.
Among the allegations in Tester’s document were that Jackson had crashed a government vehicle after getting drunk at a Secret Service going-away party. The document also included accusations that Jackson wrote himself prescriptions and had staff write prescriptions for each other to give to other people.
The White House pulled several quarterly audits of the medical unit led by Jackson, and found no evidence of impropriety in the handling of prescription drugs, according to the White House official, who was granted anonymity to discuss internal matters.
The White House also conducted a review of available vehicle records and found no evidence that he had been in any car accidents after drinking, the official said. Three minor accidents -- collisions in 2013, 2016 and 2017 -- all happened during the daytime and Jackson was not determined to be at fault, according to documents the White House reviewed.
Jackson, a Navy rear admiral, told reporters earlier this week that the allegations were false. He said that he had not wrecked a car, and denied that he had provided prescription drugs without documentation. Trump, who had selected his personal doctor to run the second-largest federal agency, said Jackson was the victim of cutthroat Washington politics.
The two-page list of allegations compiled by Democrats -- citing 23 unnamed current and former colleagues of Jackson, most of whom are still in uniform -- breaks down “serious concerns” about his conduct into three categories: prescribing practices, hostile work environment, and drunkenness.
Tester, the ranking Democrat on the Veterans Affairs Committee, which had been considering Jackson’s nomination, said in a statement released Saturday that “It’s my duty to make sure Montana veterans get what they need and have earned, and I’ll never stop fighting for them as their senator.”
The senator noted that Trump had signed multiple bills he had sponsored or co-sponsored that aim to make the Veterans Department more accountable.
Jackson said on Thursday he was withdrawing his name from nomination in order to not become a “distraction.”
“The allegations against me are completely false and fabricated,” he said Thursday in a statement. “If they had any merit, I would not have been selected, promoted and entrusted to serve in such a sensitive and important role as physician to three presidents over the past 12 years.”
‘Price to Pay’
Tester, 61, is running for a third six-year term in the U.S. Senate, and is likely to face a tough race as a Democrat in a state that voted for Trump by a 20-point margin in 2016.
Trump said in a Fox News interview on Thursday that there should be a “big price to pay in Montana” for Tester over the aborted Jackson nomination. He returned to that theme in Saturday’s tweets.
“The great people of Montana will not stand for this kind of slander when talking of a great human being,” Trump tweeted. “Admiral Jackson is the kind of man that those in Montana would most respect and admire, and now, for no reason whatsoever, his reputation has been shattered. Not fair, Tester!”
Trump, who spent part of Saturday at his golf club in the suburbs of Washington, still had Tester on his mind on the trip back to the White House, calling the lawmaker “very dishonest and sick!”
“Secret Service has just informed me that Senator Jon Tester’s statements on Admiral Jackson are not true. There were no such findings,” Trump said on Twitter. “A horrible thing that we in D.C. must live with, just like phony Russian Collusion. Tester should lose race in Montana.”
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