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Who is Ronny Jackson, Trump's pick to run Veterans Affairs?

Reaction to Trump's new VA pick

Dr. Ronny Jackson, President Trump's choice to replace David Shulkin as Secretary of Veterans Affairs, is an Iraq War vet and the current White House physician.

An admiral in the U.S. Navy, Jackson practiced medicine as part of the American military effort in Iraq before President George W. Bush brought him to the White House. He became the top White House doctor under President Obama in 2013.

Jackson is probably best known for his January press conference in which he gave Mr. Trump a clean bill of health

"The president's physical exam today at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center went exceptionally well," Jackson said in a statement the White House provided to reporters at the time. "The president is in excellent health."

President Trump has reportedly told aides and outside advisers that he is fond of Jackson personally and was impressed by his performance before the cameras.

Jackson does not have experience running a sprawling health care system or government agency like Veterans Affairs, but the White House does not seem to consider that a liability.

"We think Dr. Jackson will make a tremendous Secretary of Veterans Affairs. This is a man who as a doctor understands medicine, as an active duty member understands the military," deputy press secretary Raj Shah said on Fox News Thursday. "We've had kind of bureaucrats or individuals who understand, kind of have the experience and resumé of, you know, hospital organizations ... and they haven't fixed the problems."

Jackson will face questions about his qualifications from members of the Senate who will need to approve his nomination. In a statement, Sen. Johnny Isakson, the GOP chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, said he looks forward to "learning more" about Jackson. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat on the committee, tweeted: "I will seriously scrutinize the President's nominee, Ronny Jackson. Our nation's veterans deserve the best."

Addressing reporters in the White House briefing room after the president's January physical, Jackson declared that the 71-year-old was in "very, very good health." During an hour-long press conference, Jackson also said Mr. Trump likely had "incredible genes" that allowed him to remain healthy despite a lack of exercise and a penchant for fast food. 

"That's just the way God made him," Jackson said.

He also repeatedly said the president displayed no signs of any cognitive shortcomings.

Jackson obtained his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch and is a decorated officer. Presidents typically choose military personnel to serve as their physicians, although they can pick anyone they want. President Ronald Reagan, for example, chose a civilian doctor.

The president's physician typically travels with the president and oversees the White House Medical Center, which provides medical assistance to the president and vice president.  

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