Apr 26, 2018

Ronny Jackson looks ready to withdraw

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

White House sources tell Axios that they expect White House physician Ronny Jackson to withdraw as President Trump's nominee to run the Veterans Affairs Department, after Democrats on Capitol Hill circulated harsh new allegations.

What we're hearing, from a senior administration source: “There’s no question about whether the White House will stand by him. There is a question about how much longer he wants to put himself through it.”

Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, the top Democrat on the Veterans Affairs Committee, said Jackson was known as "the candy man" for dispensing drugs. Tester's staff circulated a "Summary of Allegations Against Admiral Jackson" that included "hostile work environment" and "drunkenness."

  • Marc Short, White House director of legislative affairs: “It is incredibly reckless for Senator Tester to besmirch the character of an admiral who has served our country in combat and provided medical care for three White Houses, Republican and Democrat, based upon unsubstantiated allegations.”

Why the White House held on so long:

  • What if the goal is to get Democrats to pile on an admiral who passed background checks across Republican and Democratic administrations?
  • Also, White House staff are genuinely defensive of Jackson — a man who’s well liked in the building — against what staff see as unfair airing of unverified allegations. 
  • It's the view of some Republicans that going all-in could backfire on Democrats, especially if some of the allegations are disproven.

Be smart: A U.S. senator is giving credence to these allegations. Tester has a tough reelection race in a red state, and may have some incentive not to cause problems for the administration. So the fact that he’s putting his reputation behind these claims is significant, though it certainly doesn’t prove they’re true.

Go deeper

Trump says he will campaign against Lisa Murkowski after her support for Mattis

Trump with Barr and Meadows outside St. John's Episcopal church in Washington, D.C. on June 1. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Thursday that he would endorse "any candidate" with a pulse who runs against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Driving the news: Murkowski said on Thursday that she supported former defense secretary James Mattis' condemnation of Trump over his response to protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing. She described Mattis' statement as "true, honest, necessary and overdue," Politico's Andrew Desiderio reports.

4 hours ago - World

The president vs. the Pentagon

Trump visits Mattis and the Pentagon in 2018. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

Over the course of just a few hours, President Trump was rebuffed by the Secretary of Defense over his call for troops in the streets and accused by James Mattis, his former Pentagon chief, of trampling the Constitution for political gain.

Why it matters: Current and former leaders of the U.S. military are drawing a line over Trump's demand for a militarized response to the protests and unrest that have swept the country over the killing of George Floyd by police.

New York Times says Tom Cotton op-ed did not meet standards

Photo: Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

A New York Times spokesperson said in a statement Thursday that the paper will be changing its editorial board processes after a Wednesday op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), which called for President Trump to "send in the troops" in order to quell violent protests, failed to meet its standards.

Why it matters: The shift comes after Times employees began a coordinated movement on social media on Wednesday and Thursday that argued that publishing the op-ed put black staff in danger. Cotton wrote that Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act in order to deploy the U.S. military against rioters that have overwhelmed police forces in cities across the country.