AP FACT CHECK: Trump distorts claims on VA nominee, vet care

Published 8:13 am Wednesday, May 2, 2018

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is distorting some of the reasons why his pick to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, White House physician Ronny Jackson, abruptly withdrew his nomination.

Trump casts late-surfacing allegations against Jackson as entirely partisan. He cites an investigation led by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., even though the review involved interviews with military personnel and was conducted with the knowledge and support of Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the committee considering Jackson’s nomination.

Trump also ignores misgivings expressed by several Republicans over Jackson’s lack of management experience after Trump suddenly selected the doctor last month to head the government’s second-largest agency.

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A look at the misleading rhetoric:

TRUMP: “Allegations made by Senator Jon Tester against Admiral/Doctor Ron Jackson are proving false. 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.” — tweet Saturday afternoon.

TRUMP: “What Jon Tester did to this man is a disgrace. … He’s a great, great guy… and he started studying and then he started getting hit with vicious rumors — vicious. And the Secret Service told me just coming in, ‘Sir, we checked out all of those things. Sir, they’re not true.’” — rally Saturday night in Washington Township, Michigan.

THE FACTS: It’s inaccurate for Trump to characterize the allegations against Jackson as “Democrat” or to suggest that Jackson’s nomination failed entirely because of them. The allegations, which centered on a “pattern” of loosely prescribing drugs, drunken behavior on the job and a “toxic” work environment, were based on interviews with more than 20 military personnel, according to Tester. The time period covered Jackson’s tenure as a White House physician dating to 2006 and involved colleagues who served in both Republican and Democratic administrations.