Five current and former employees of the White House medical unit told CNN that they felt pressured to hand out drugs to senior officials. These handouts, they claimed, were endorsed by Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, the White House physician.
On Thursday, Jackson, President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace David Shulkin as secretary of Veterans Affairs, withdrew from the confirmation process.
What are the accusations?
According to CNN's sources, the medical unit at the White House often became a "grab and go" clinic for staffers and even senior officials to get prescription drugs without a prescription or an examination by a doctor.
One of CNN’s sources describes a scene where a White House staffer grew frustrated when a doctor at the medical unit refused to hand over antibiotic Z-Paks for the staffer and his wife without either of them first receiving an examination.
"Dr. Jackson said I can just pick it up and I don't have to be seen,” the staffer allegedly said.
According to the source, another medical unit employee intervened, handing the Z-Paks to the staffer and telling the doctor “you need to just give people these meds when they ask for it."
Another employee recalled routinely handing out Ambien, a sedative used to treat insomnia, without prescriptions.
Who is Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson?
On Thursday, Jackson withdrew from the confirmation process to become head of the Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition to loosely prescribing pain medication, he was accused of writing prescriptions for himself, repeatedly getting drunk at work, creating a “toxic” work environment for his employees, and allegedly crashing a government vehicle while intoxicated.
On Tuesday, Trump gave his nominee the option to withdraw, but scoffed at the accusations against him. The president called the confirmation process for Jackson “too ugly and too disgusting” and expressed remorse that “an extraordinary person” like Jackson “has to listen to the abuse that he has to.”
Jackson has worked in the White House since 2006. In 2013, under President Barack Obama, he was promoted to physician to the president.
Trump nominated Jackson to be VA secretary on March 28 after firing former VA Secretary David Shulkin. This came shortly after Jackson gave Trump a glowing review following a routine physical examination. Jackson said that Trump was in “excellent” health, “mentally very sharp,” and that he had “good genes.”