Sarah Sanders gave one of her trademarked tortured press conferences, and did the best she could do (read: NOT WELL) to answer a reporter's questions about the nomination of Dr. Ronny Jackson to head the Veterans' Administration. He's being accused of creating a hostile work environment, being drunk on the job, crashing a government vehicle he was driving (while drunk,) freely dispensing drugs without a prescription, having his own stash of them, and saying the President is the most handsome man he has ever seen. (Okay, maybe not that last one...)
At the press conference, Julie Davis of the New York Times asked if the White House was truly unaware of the allegations against Dr. Jackson, Sanders assured her no "areas of concern" came up in the "background checks" they performed.
Persistence being a virtue, Davis probed, "So, what was the vetting process?" - noting there actually was an Inspector General's report filed, and other complaints against him before Trump nominated him. Sanders reiterated, "FOUR background checks, one by the FBI, and all came back clean." CLEAN. Interesting choice of words, given the allegations.
As incredulous as the rest of us, but way more professional sounding, Davis asked one more time, "Is that all that was done? Background checks?"
Here, Sanders said more words, but didn't impart any more actual information.
SANDERS: No, there's a number of things. but you also have to remember this is somebody that spends more time with the president than just about anyone. These investigations are very thorough and certainly something that was taken into consideration.
So, that leaves only our imagination to fill in what those other things might be that are taken into consideration, given the amount of time he and the "president" spend together. Do they play a lot of "Operation?" Since the job involves veterans, do they watch "Hogan's Heroes?" Does Trump let Jackson drive the golf cart at Mar-a-Lago? What are these other things?
In all seriousness, though, not all of this squares up for several reasons. If Jackson was so grossly incompetent, why was he allowed to remain in the Obama administration? He was President Obama's personal doctor in the White House, too. That kind of behavior doesn't seem like something he would have put up with.
Secondly, all of these allegations have been anonymous. That isn't unusual in a whistleblower-type situation, but combined with the above, creates a little bit of doubt...something is not passing the smell test. Is Jackson being smeared, here? If so, why and by whom? Trump himself has seemed to give him political Kiss of Death yesterday, saying,
“I don’t want to put a man through a process like this. It’s too ugly, and it’s too disgusting. I said to Dr. Jackson, what do you need it for? To be abused by a bunch of politicians? . . . If I was him . . . I wouldn’t do it."
However, that does absolutely nothing to change the egregiousness of the fact that Trump bases his appointments on whim, loyalty, and personality, rather than ability and experience. And if even a fraction of these allegations against Jackson are true, it seems like neither party wants him at the helm of the VA, no matter how many background checks Sarah Sanders says he passes.
UPDATE: Aaaaaaand, he's gone. This morning the news broke that Dr. Ronny Jackson has withdrawn his nomination for head of the VA. Per the Washington Post, he continues to deny all of the allegations against him.