Retired Rear Admiral and doctor, Ronny Jackson, who is the White House physician, was nominated by President Trump after David Shulkin was ousted from his cabinet position of Secretary of Veterans Affairs earlier this year. Since then, both Republicans and Democrats have had concerns with Trump’s pick, largely due to Jackson’s lack of experience.

CNN reported that the challenges facing Dr. Ronny Jackson are serious enough to give pause to Jackson’s confirmation hearing which was scheduled for Wednesday (April 25). However, recent information has surfaced about allegations of “improper conduct” during his career that has Congress saying, "not so fast".

Lawmakers also expressed concerns about Jackson’s supporting views of privatizing veterans’ medical care—a proposal opposed by millions of vets and a “red line” for the Democratic Party.

Airing dirty laundry

At a joint news conference with French President Macron on Tuesday afternoon (April 24), Trump was asked about his pick for Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the recent allegations that surfaced. The POTUS said he was unaware of the specifics, even though sources familiar with the matter told CNN that Jackson alerted the White House about the allegations on Monday (April 22), saying they may pose a problem.

Trump also told reporters that he knows there is an “experience problem” but Dr. Jackson was “one of the finest people” he’d met.

The President said he spoke with Admiral Jackson earlier and offered some advice saying he wouldn't go through with it and that Ronny didn’t need the political headaches, but he’d let it be his choice if he wanted to proceed with trying to get confirmed.

Reporters caught up to Dr. Jackson on Capitol Hill, as he was headed out of the office, and asked about the allegations.

Jackson gave a quick comment saying he looks forward to rescheduling the confirmation hearing. This is the same hearing that has been indefinitely delayed by the senators who have concerns, and more so now in light of the recent allegations.

Pill pusher?

In a cable news interview Senator Jon Tester (D) of Montana and Ranking Member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, said two whistleblowers, a current and a former associate of Dr.

Jackson disclosed concerns to the committee, and then others began to surface and report their concerns about Dr. Jackson’s behaviors.

This drew more scrutiny and prompted Senator Isakson (R) of Georgia, Chairman of the Veteran Affairs Committee, and his Democratic counterpart to jointly send a letter to the White House asking for more information. Additional information would corroborate or dismiss the claims presented.

Much of what’s been learned thus far was provided to the committee from about twenty staffers and active and retired military personnel, who told of overseas trips in which the doctor would go down the aisle of the plane and ask who wanted to go to sleep and hand out Ambien, a prescription sleeping aid that is known to have adverse side effects.

This is quite believable considering the January 16 press conference about the President’s physical, in which Dr. Jackson said taking Ambien on flights is a common practice of many who fly long distances and something he recommends.

Reports also alleged that the doctor would hand out pills like Provigil to wake them up, a prescriptive drug usually given to those with narcolepsy or sleep disorders. This drug can also have severe side effects. And no, none of the travelers had prescriptions for the meds allegedly dispensed by Dr. Jackson.

It is for this reason of freely handing out narcotic drugs like candy that some White House employees nicknamed him the “Candyman,” according to Senator Tester.

Drink much?

It’s not just the pills that are concerning, there have been other allegations of multiple occasions when Dr. Jackson was drunk on overseas trips, according to reports received by the committee. In one report, on an overseas trip, the doctor was allegedly so inebriated that he could not respond or function so someone else had to fill in for him.

CNN reported that at the end of the evening on a particular overseas trip in 2015, the doctor, who should have been on call, was so drunk that he was found in the hotel hallway banging wildly on the door of a female employee’s hotel room. The situation was so disruptive that the Secret Service had to stop him because he would’ve woken President Obama.

The White House and Secret Service were asked to comment on these reports but declined, according to CNN’.

Fight club

Ok, so it’s not just the drinking and passing out narcotics, there’s more. The Associated Press reported that a Watchdog‘s report said Jackson, a captain at the time, demonstrated “unprofessional behavior” when he was locked in a power struggle with a rival doctor, who was of the same rank.

The two men clashed on a couple of fronts and when a command climate survey was done to assess the workplace, staffers said the two captains “bickered like two parents going through a bitter divorce.” CNN obtained the 2012 report that detailed the response of the Navy Medical Inspector General who suggested that one or both of the doctors be removed from their roles at the White House medical office.

The end of that story is, to the dismay of his coworkers, Jackson stayed, and was later promoted to Admiral under the Obama Administration.

The doctor can’t see you now

Many senators like Senator Tom Udall (D) of New Mexico, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, says Jackson’s nomination is doomed. In a CNN interview, Udall asserted that if the allegations are true, he doesn’t have a chance and it’s the agency that is leaderless and hurting. He also sent the White House a message, “do your vetting better” to avoid embarrassing staffing situations like this one.

Despite the rumors and allegations, Jackson isn’t giving up. In his meeting with Senator Moran (R) of Kansas Tuesday afternoon he said was ready to move on with the hearing.

Moran told reporters that Ronny also denies doing anything ‘improper’ and said he looks forward to answering all questions because nothing he has done would “disqualify” him from this post.

The next hearing date has not been scheduled and it will be up to the chairman to reschedule the hearing over the next week, or not. It is anticipated that there will be some bipartisan work to determine if and when they will move forward with the hearing. Meanwhile, people who still work in the medical unit fear for their jobs now that they have spoken out, and Jackson’s confirmation hangs loosely by a congressional thread.