Pentagon report: Rep. Ronny Jackson harassed staff, used alcohol on duty

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon has released a biting report of the conduct of Texas Republican Rep. Ronny Jackson during his tenure as White House physician in the Trump administration.

The Defense Department inspector general, who released the report, said Jackson made “sexual and denigrating statements about one of his female medical subordinates to another of his subordinates.”

It also details instances in which he “engaged in alcohol-related misconduct, including wrecking a government vehicle while intoxicated.”

The report is rife with comments that describe a toxic and dysfunctional work environment under Jackson.

He served in the White House Medical Unit under both Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush before being elevated to the top medical position by Obama in 2013. President Donald Trump kept Jackson on until his resignation in 2019, after which he launched a campaign for Congress.

In November, Jackson won a race in Texas’ 13th District.

Former White House physician Ronny Jackson elected to Congress (Photo: GETTY)

“We concluded that Rear Admiral Jackson’s overall course of conduct toward subordinates disparaged, belittled, bullied, and humiliated them, and fostered a negative work environment by failing to treat subordinates with dignity and respect,” the investigators said in a press release on their findings.

Who is Ronny Jackson?

Jackson began his career as a Naval medical officer in 1995, where he served in the armed forces until beginning work as a White House doctor in 2006. In 2011, he was promoted to director of the White House Medical Unit.

Two years later, Jackson became physician to the president in the Obama White House. Both Obama and Trump gave him glowing performance reviews, according to portions of the reviews released by the White House.

In 2018, Trump nominated Jackson to head the Department of Veteran Affairs. Jackson came under withering criticism, first for a lack of management experience and accusations by colleagues that he improperly dished out opioids, drank on the job and fostered a hostile work environment, accusations with echoes in the current Pentagon investigation.

Independent investigations in 2012 and 2013 found Jackson engaged in “unprofessional behaviors” that contributed to a “toxic” workplace and recommended he “hone his self-awareness” of behaviors that gave staff the impression they were “purely politically driven for his self-advancement.”

After a month of deliberations, Jackson withdrew his nomination.

What 60 witnesses said

Officials noted that White House counsel was present in all interviews with witnesses, which investigators argued had a “potential chilling effect” that would “prevent us from receiving accurate testimony.” The critical testimony that was uncovered is not favorable to the congressman. Jackson has claimed the findings are politically motivated.

Of the 60 individuals interviewed, only four witnesses told investigators “that they did not experience, see, or hear about Real Admiral Jackson yelling, screaming, cursing, or belittling subordinates,” according to the report.

“If he’s in a hurry, and if he’s upset … he is prone to having meltdowns and tantrums,” one witness is quoted as saying in the report.

“I never saw Rear Admiral Jackson reward anyone. I only saw him break people down. I never saw him ever put the needs of the mission or another (service member) before his own, ever,” another subordinate said.

Jackson was also frequently intoxicated, according to the report. Examples, including one when he was inebriated and made advances toward and lewd comments about female coworkers, are common in the report, including on trips to the Philippines and Argentina.

Officials also investigated reports that Jackson “used Ambien while on duty and while on call for providing medical care for Government officials on travel, including the President.” The report found that Jackson would use Ambien on long flights overseas, which is technically not prohibited by Defense Department policy.

Other health personnel on these long flights, however, expressed concern that the White House’s top physician was effectively incapacitated in case medical care was necessary.

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