White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on Wednesday labeled the rising questions about Dr. Ronny Jackson, President Donald Trump's nominee to head the Veterans Administration, as "personal character assassination," rather than an attempt to determine whether he has the qualifications to run the mammoth agency.
"It's part of the reason I think most Americans hate Washington," Sanders told Fox News' "America's Newsroom" co-host Bill Hemmer. "Washington has become so broken that they focus so much on destroying people, they aren't even talking about his qualifications to run the VA. They're talking about personal character assassination.
The allegations against Jackson, the White House physician under both Trump and former President Barack Obama include involvement in a hostile work environment, excessive drinking on the job and improperly dispensing medication.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration released a handwritten note from Obama, in which he also praised Jackson.
Sanders noted that Trump left it up to Jackson if he wants to stay in the running for the VA confirmation, but he does consider the doctor a "great man."
"He hates to see him go through this process," said Sanders. "I think that we really need to look at the way the process is handled. They did this with CIA Director [Mike] Pompeo, somebody who is incredibly qualified, should have been moved forward much quicker and frankly with a lot more bipartisan support.
Sanders also commented on the president's plans for the Iran deal, saying she doesn't want to get ahead of his announcement, but pointed out he has been clear from the beginning the deal has not been a good one.
"He wants to see a good deal made and we'll see if that's possible," said Sanders, "but right now I'm not going to get ahead of the president, any decision he may or may not make. He wants to make sure we are doing things that look at the safety and security of our country and helped contain Iran, help contain weapons of mass destruction in a big way and that's what you'll see reflected."
She also discussed whether French President Emmanuel Macron, visiting this week, has been able to convince Trump to keep troops in Syria.
"The goal, as we've said all along, is to defeat ISIS," said Sanders. "We'll continue pushing forward on that front. They've completely decimated the majority of ISIS in that part of the world. We want to continue to do that. The president wants to make sure that is taken care of but also wants our allies and partners in the region to step up and do more both militarily and financially and expects that to happen. As that happens he wants to bring American troops home."
Sanders also discounted concerns about Tuesday's Arizona special election, pointing out that even though the margin was close, a Republican still won and it will be a Republican heading to Washington.
On Tuesday, Republican Debbie Lesko won the special election in Arizona's 8th Congressional District to replace Rep. Trent Franks, the Republican lawmaker who stepped down in December over allegations of sexual misconduct.
She defeated former emergency room physician Hirar Tipirneni, with Democrats hoping to repeat wins in Pennsylvania and Alabama in the Arizona district that encompasses western Phoenix' suburbs and the retirement community of Sun City, all traditional conservative strongholds.
When The Associated Press called the race an hour after the polls closed, Lesko had taken 53 percent of the vote, with Tipirneni at 47 percent, giving Lesko the single-digit win.
"I think there is plenty of enthusiasm and plenty of support for Republicans moving into the midterms," Sanders said. "The reason why is because we've actually gotten some really big things done. You look at the last year and a half under President Trump's leadership."
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