Now a member of Congress, Ronny Jackson’s former White House Medical Unit subordinates told Defense Department investigators he routinely berated them and drank alcohol to excess on overseas trips.
(CN) — Texas Congressman Ronny Jackson bullied his staff with screaming temper tantrums during his tenure as the president’s physician and spooked one staffer by pounding on her hotel room door drunk and telling her, “I need you,” according to a Defense Department inspector general report.
Jackson, a Republican, served as physician to the president from 2013 to 2018 under Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
After Trump nominated Jackson in March 2018 to be secretary of Veterans Affairs, accusations of bad behavior during his time in the White House surfaced, leading Jackson to withdraw his nomination.
A retired U.S. Navy rear admiral, Jackson was elected in November to represent Texas’ 13th Congressional District, which spans the Texas Panhandle into the northeast part of the state.
The report’s authors said they interviewed 60 people who worked under Jackson in the White House Medical Unit.
“Only four witnesses told us that they did not experience, see, or hear about RDML Jackson yelling, screaming, cursing, or belittling subordinates,” the report states, abbreviating rear admiral.
One person interviewed said Jackson was “a toxic leader” and another said he was “a crappy manager at best.”
Witnesses said Jackson had cursed out staffers for not buying the right kind of bug spray during a trip to Martha’s Vineyard, and berated a subordinate during an event at the White House, telling them, “I don’t know what the f**k you think you’re doing here” and “You need to get out of here, I don’t want you here,” according to the report.
It says during a presidential trip to Manila, Philippines in 2014, Jackson told a White House Medical Unit staff member one of his colleagues had “great tits” and a “nice ass.”
After drinking several beers at a Manila restaurant, Jackson reportedly went to the woman’s hotel room between 1 and 2 a.m. and pounded on the door.
She told investigators, “You could smell the alcohol on his breath, and he leaned into my room and he said, ‘I need you,'” the report states.
The investigators say they also looked into allegations Jackson had crashed a government vehicle while intoxicated, but found no evidence to substantiate those claims.
Witnesses also told them Jackson had abused the sleep-aid drug Ambien on long overseas flights, raising concerns about his ability to help the president in the event of a medical emergency.
The Defense Department investigators say they are not aware of any White House Medical Office policy prohibiting the use of Ambien in such circumstances, but recommended the office’s director “issue fitness for duty guidance regarding the appropriate use of Ambien and similar drugs while medical personnel are on duty or on call to provide emergency medical services.”
The inspector general’s office also recommended the secretary of the Navy “take appropriate action” regarding Jackson, who retired from the Navy in December 2019.
Before his promotion to president’s physician, Jackson worked in the White House Medical Unit in the mid-2000s under George W. Bush.
Jackson defended his behavior Wednesday going back to his first job in the White House Medical Unit.
“I’m proud of the work environment I fostered under three different presidents of both parties; I take my professional responsibility with respect to prescription drug practices seriously; and I flat out reject any allegation that I consumed alcohol while on duty,” he said in a statement.
“I also categorically deny any implication that I was in any way sexually inappropriate,” he continued, “at work, outside of work, or anywhere with any member of my staff or anyone else. That is not me and what is alleged did not happen.”
The Republican lawmaker also described the 2018 allegations that led him to withdraw his nomination for secretary of Veterans Affairs as a “political hit job because I stood with President Trump” and said Democrats are using the new report to attack his integrity.