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Ronny Jackson's failed VA nomination: What Marc Short would do differently now

Marc Short on Ronny Jackson

The failure of Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson's nomination to be Veterans Affairs secretary has been blamed on shoddy vetting by some lawmakers, though the White House blames the toxic atmosphere in Washington and in particular, Sen. Jon Tester, the ranking Democrat on the Veterans' Affairs Committee. Still, the president's liaison to Congress conceded that there were some things that the White House could have done differently.  

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"I'd say that what we should do, looking back, is that I think that we didn't tell Ronny's story effectively ahead of time, and so therefore there was a blank canvas for which Senator Tester was able to paint the picture he wanted," White House legislative director Marc Short told "The Takeout's" Major Garrett, adding, "and that's something that we could do better." 

Three days after allegations about Jackson's conduct during his tenure as a White House physician were raised and then released by Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, of Montana, Jackson withdrew his nomination to be the next Veterans Affairs secretary. He said he expected "tough questions" about care for the nation's veterans, but not to have to dignify "baseless and anonymous attacks" on his character.

Short still agrees with the president that "this town has become so poisonous that Ronny fell victim to a senator who chose to release uncorroborated allegations to the American people and those stories - the media ran with."

He reminded Garrett that Jackson had been vetted, not just by the Trump administration, but also by prior administrations. 

"Keep in mind -- here is a guy who had served three different presidents as their doctor," Short said. "He had been vetted not just by our White House but by the two previous White Houses. He had risen and had continual fitness reports each and every year. Even Senator Tester said his FBI background check came clear."

For more of Major's conversation with Marc Short, download "The Takeout" podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcher, or Spotify. New episodes are available every Friday morning

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Producers: Arden Farhi, Katiana Krawchenko

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