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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

DoD: Investigation Of Trump VA Nominee Jackson Still Ongoing

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

On the eve of President Trump’s fourth visit to Montana since July to campaign against Sen. Jon Tester, the Defense Department says it is continuing to investigate charges of professional misconduct by Rear Admiral Ronny L. Jackson. 

Tester brought up those charges after the President nominated Jackson to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs last April. Jackson subsequently withdrew his nomination before confirmation hearings could be held.

Trump responded by attacking Tester on Twitter, saying he should resign. The President referenced the nomination dispute during his visit to Missoula on October 13th.

"Jon Tester led the Democrat mob in the effort to destroy the reputation of a very great man, Admiral Ronny Jackson," Trump said during his visit.

Trump says Jackson is innocent and that allegations against him have been checked and proven untrue. But the Defense Department’s Inspector General tells NPR that the investigation into Jackson is still on-going. The Inspector General wouldn’t predict when it might be complete. If the charges are substantiated, the Navy might have no choice but to fire Jackson.

In Missoula, President Trump also said this about Jackson:

"He didn’t really want it, and he might not have been qualified, but he was a doctor at a high level."

Almost no Republicans rose to Jackson’s defense following those remarks. Senator Tester maintains that the charges against Jackson were brought by “23 colleagues and former colleagues of Rear Admiral Jackson, most of whom are still in uniform."

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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