President Donald Trump Thursday slammed Democrats as "obstructionists" after his pick to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, Dr. Ronny Jackson, opted to pull out of contention to head the government's second largest agency.
"The Democrats are obstructionists," the president told Fox News' "Fox and Friends," during a heated telephone interview. "It is horrible what they're doing. They're not approving people, taking them out to the maximum 30 hours, 30 hours to interview people to be approved. They go 30 hours and people vote. It is a disgrace."
Jackson, a Navy admiral and the White House doctor, withdrew from consideration to head the VA on Thursday, saying the "false allegations" that he had exhibited a pattern of recklessly prescribing drugs and drunken behavior, had become a distraction.
"I even told him a day or two ago. I saw where this is going," said Trump Thursday. "They are very upset because Mike Pompeo, first in his class at West Point, top in his class at Harvard Law School, a brilliant guy, a great guy, somebody I get along with very well, Mike got through. They thought they had him stopped."
Trump said the delays have caused hardship for people he's nominated.
"You have people [who have] given up everything," said the president. "They have given up their jobs, top-line people, brilliant people. They want to come to help us in government. [Senate Majority Leader] Chuck Schumer and the group take, you know, years to approve them, years. We have judges that are waiting, top of the line people, the best people in our country, and, by the way, they're going to be approved but they take them out until the very, very end, they said over nine years, before they get approved. Every little trick in the book."
Trump had particular ire for Sen. Jon Tester, the top Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, who labeled Jackson as a "candy man" who had been handing out prescription medications while at the White House.
"I think this is going to cause him a lot of problems in his state," said Trump."He took a man who was just an incredible man, an incredible man, respected by President [Barack] Obama, gave him his highest rating. You saw what president Obama said. President George W. Bush...he has been my doctor and he run as fantastic operation."
He also discounted complaints about Jackson's experience, because even the head of the biggest hospital corporation in the world would be overseeing an operation that's "peanuts compared to the VA. So nobody has experience. You know it is a big monster. And I'm really proud of the job we've done for the VA...we got rid of so many rules and regulations that made it impossible. We're really doing great at the VA.
Jackson "would have done a great job," said Trump. "Tremendous heart. These are all false accusations. These are false. They are trying to destroy a man. By the way I did say 'welcome to Washington. Welcome to the swamp. Welcome to the world of politics.'"
Until now, he said, Jackson has had a "beautiful record, unblemished," and a son who is at the top of his class at Annapolis.
Trump said he does have an idea who his next nominee will be, and he does think "we'll have somebody great."
That person will be "somebody with political capability," the president promised, even though Jackson is "not a politician, which is what I liked."
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