Navy Admiral Ronny Jackson, Donald Trump's choice to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, was already a highly problematic choice. The VA is a bureaucratic behemoth -- it has an annual budget of $186 billion, employs 360,000 people, and oversees a vast network of offices and medical facilities across the country -- that the White House physician appears wholly unprepared to lead.
The president, however, likes Jackson personally, and that was enough. For the Senate, it's not. Axios reported over the weekend that there are "widespread" and bipartisan concerns about Jackson's nomination. The piece added that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly "thought it was unwise for Trump to nominate Jackson so quickly without going through all the due diligence that a normal cabinet nomination process would involve."
If so, it was probably unwise for Trump to ignore Kelly's purported instincts.
Ronny Jackson's confirmation hearing to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, has been postponed because of unspecified concerns about Jackson's background, two sources told NBC News. [...]
The sources said senators on the Veterans Affairs Committee became aware of these concerns only recently -- within the past several days -- and raised them with the White House.
The details of the concerns are still coming into focus, though as Rachel noted on the show last night, there are unconfirmed allegations that Jackson oversaw a "hostile work environment," drank excessively while on the job, and "improperly" dispensed medication.
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) confirmed to reporters this morning that Jackson's confirmation hearing, which was scheduled to begin tomorrow, has been scrapped -- and the timing for the next hearing is still up in the air.
At face value, this is a story about an unqualified cabinet nominee struggling in the face of scrutiny, but taking a step back, there's a larger issue to consider.