Trump says Demo­crat should quit over VA nom­i­na­tion brouhaha

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - NATION + WORLD - By Jill Colvin and Zeke Miller

WASH­ING­TON » A fu­ri­ous Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Satur­day called for the res­ig­na­tion of the Demo­cratic se­na­tor who as­sem­bled and re­leased what he called “false” al­le­ga­tions that scut­tled the nom­i­na­tion of the White House doc­tor who’d been in line to lead the Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs.

Trump stepped up his crit­i­cism of Mon­tana’s Jon Tester, the top Demo­crat on the Se­nate Vet­er­ans’ Com­mit­tee, in two tweets days af­ter as­sert­ing that Tester “has to have a big price to pay” po­lit­i­cally in the GOP friendly state for his lead­ing role in Ronny Jack­son’s failed VA bid. Tester faces a com­pet­i­tive re-elec­tion race this year.

Tester, in a state­ment, didn’t di­rectly re­spond to Trump but said he was com­mit­ted to aid­ing vet­er­ans.

At is­sue are al­le­ga­tions that Tester has said were brought to his attention by more than 20 mil­i­tary and re­tired mil­i­tary per­son­nel who’ve worked with Jack­son. Tester said not in­ves­ti­gat­ing would have been “a dere­lic­tion of duty” and said mak­ing them pub­lic was im­por­tant for the sake of trans­parency.

The charges against Jack­son raised ques­tions about his pre­scrib­ing practices and lead­er­ship abil­ity, in­clud­ing ac­cu­sa­tions of drunk­en­ness on the job. Tester’s of­fice col­lected the al­le­ga­tions, which in­cluded a claim that Jack­son “got drunk and wrecked a govern­ment ve­hi­cle” at a Se­cret Ser­vice go­ing-away party.

Trump tweeted early Satur­day that the al­le­ga­tions “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. Tester should re­sign.”

Trump said peo­ple in Mon­tana, a state he won by 20 per­cent­age points in 2016, “will not stand for this kind of slan­der.” He called Jack­son “the kind of man that those in Mon­tana would most re­spect and ad­mire, and now, for no rea­son what­so­ever, his rep­u­ta­tion has been shat­tered. Not fair, Tester!”

Be­fore leav­ing for a rally in Michi­gan, Trump di­rected an­other tweet at Tester, liken­ing the se­na­tor’s claims against Jack­son to the “phony Rus­sian Col­lu­sion” ac­cu­sa­tions lev­eled against Trump’s 2016 cam­paign. “Tester should lose race in Mon­tana. Very dis­hon­est and sick!”

A writ­ten state­ment by Tester didn’t re­spond di­rectly to Trump’s re­marks.

“It’s my duty to make sure Mon­tana vet­er­ans get what they need and have earned, and I’ll never stop fight­ing for them as their Se­na­tor,” it said. It also said Trump has signed eight Tester bills on vet­er­ans into law.

A spokes­woman for the com­mit­tee chair­man, Sen. Johnny Isak­son, R-Ga., de­clined com­ment Satur­day on Trump’s tweets. When Amanda Mad­dox was asked whether Isak­son was troubled by Tester’s re­lease of the al­le­ga­tions, she cited com­ments the chair­man made Thurs­day: “Ev­ery­one has an obli­ga­tion if they make a charge to re­lease it. And ev­ery­one who is charged has a right to have a day in court to be heard.”

The White House said Fri­day, one day af­ter Jack­son with­drew his nom­i­na­tion, that in­ter­nal records raise doubt about some of the most se­ri­ous ac­cu­sa­tions.

The White House said its records, in­clud­ing po­lice re­ports, show Jack­son was in three mi­nor in­ci­dents in govern­ment ve­hi­cles dur­ing the past five years, but none in­volved the use of al­co­hol and he was not found to be at fault. In one case, a side-view mir­ror was clipped by a pass­ing truck. In an­other in­ci­dent an en­raged driver in Mont­gomery County, Maryland, al­legedly punched out Jack­son’s win­dow dur­ing a morn­ing drive to Camp David.

The White House med­i­cal unit that Jack­son ran suc­cess­fully passed reg­u­lar con­trolled sub­stance au­dits, ac­cord­ing to the records for the last three years. The re­views did rec­om­mend im­prove­ments to the med­i­cal unit’s han­dling of con­trolled sub­stances, but did not find mis­con­duct.

J. SCOTT AP­PLE­WHITE - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., ar­rives for vot­ing at the Capi­tol in Wash­ing­ton in Jan­uary. With a flat-top hair­cut, three miss­ing fin­gers and a quite-wide girth, Tester has some­how kept a low pro­file in Congress. Then he caught the attention of Amer­i­cans,...

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