Dr. Ronny Jackson is out as Trump continues to gut the government from the inside.
By nominating somebody who was completely unqualified to run the sprawling Department of Veterans Affairs, and then watching that nomination implode in spectacular fashion, Trump continues his historic campaign to gut the federal government from inside.
Trump’s doing that by refusing to fill hundreds of government vacancies, randomly dismantling his year-old cabinet, watching a historic number of advisers abandon the White House, and tapping people who are largely unqualified and then watching their nominations get scuttled.
Dr. Ronny Jackson — or “Dr. Ronny,” as Trump called him during his bizarre Fox appearance — fell into that last category when he withdrew his VA nomination on Thursday morning. And by doing so, Jackson became at least the 23rd Trump nominee who has failed to confirmed, or never even made it through the confirmation process, according to a tally from NBC News.
Those failed personnel choices extend all across the federal government, including failed nominations at the State Department, Health and Human Services, the Treasury Department and the FDIC.
The cumulative failures mean the government isn’t functioning the way it should be.
Now, the botched handling of Jackson’s role means that the often-struggling VA will remain without a clear leader. And this will likely be the case for months to come.
But maybe that’s the way Trump wants it, since he has sent a clear signal over the last year that leaving a federal agency rudderless and understaffed is something he approves of.
Trump’s White House Presidential Personnel Office, which is tasked with filling thousands of government jobs, has been described as a juvenile wasteland, where young staffers hang out vaping and playing drinking games.
Even the conservative National Review recently rebuked Trump for completely abandoning his executive branch responsibility to staff a functioning government.
“Of the top 640 jobs that require Senate confirmation, the Partnership for Public Service has calculated that fewer than half — 275 — have been confirmed and are on the job,” the magazine noted. “Another 144 people have been named or nominated but are awaiting confirmation. A total of 217 positions — a third of the total — have never had anyone named to fill them.”
The Jackson mess was telegraphed the moment his nomination was announced, and the White House could not given a coherent reason why Jackson, who had never managed more than a couple dozen employees, was qualified to run the second-largest federal department in the country.
Jackson’s only qualification seemed to be that Trump liked him and that Jackson had effusively praised Trump’s health during an infamous White House press briefing Jackson gave to reporters back in January.
Still, the nomination proceeded until more than 20 active duty and retired military officers reached out to the Senate Veterans Affairs committee, detailing shocking allegations about Jackson’s behavior, which included claims of excessive drinking.
Trump campaigned in 2016 promising he’d only hire the “best people.” But it looks like the best people won’t work for Trump, and he’s not even interested in hiring.