Jackson claimed the report was politically motivated in a statement to CNN on Tuesday, saying the inspector general “resurrected” old allegations against him because he refused to “turn my back on President (Donald) Trump,” who was a vocal supporter of his 2020 congressional bid. He also told CNN he rejects “any allegation that I consumed alcohol while on duty.”
After interviewing 78 witnesses and reviewing a host of White House documents, investigators concluded that Jackson, who achieved the rank of Rear Admiral, failed to treat his subordinates with dignity and respect, engaged in inappropriate conduct involving the use of alcohol during two incidents and used sleeping medication during an overseas trip that raised concerns about his ability to provide medical care to the President and other top officials, according to the report.
The report also notes that the investigation into Jackson “was limited in scope and unproductive” as White House counsel under Trump insisted on being present at all interviews of current White House Medical Unit employees, which had a “potential chilling effect” on the probe.
“We determined that the potential chilling effect of their presence would prevent us from receiving accurate testimony,” the report states, adding that fieldwork stopped for about 10 months, between October 11, 2018, and August 22, 2019, as the Department of Defense inspector general and White House counsel determined whether the White House would invoke executive privilege, which they ultimately did not do.
Ambien and alcohol on trips with the President
Still, the conclusions about Jackson’s conduct are striking. Allegations about his explosive temper and creating a hostile work environment are consistent throughout his time in both the Obama and Trump administrations as an “overwhelming majority of witnesses (56) … who worked with RDML Jackson from 2012 through 2018 told us they personally experienced, saw, or heard about him yelling, screaming, cursing, or belittling subordinates,” the report says.
“Many of these witnesses described RDML Jackson’s behavior with words and phrases such as ‘meltdowns,’ ‘yells’ for no reason,’ ‘rages,’ ‘tantrums,’ ‘lashes out,’ and ‘aggressive.’ These witnesses also described RDML Jackson’s leadership style with terms such as ‘tyrant,’ ‘dictator,’ ‘control freak,’ ‘hallmarks of fear and intimidation,’ ‘crappy manager,’ and ‘not a leader at all,'” it adds.
On a presidential trip to Manila from April 22, 2014, to April 29, 2014, four witnesses who traveled with then-President Barack Obama and Jackson said that Jackson became intoxicated and made inappropriate comments about a female medical subordinate.
A witness interviewed by the IG said that shortly after arriving in Manila, Jackson began drinking in the hotel lobby, then got into a car with a drink in his hand “to go out on the town.” Another witness said he could smell alcohol on Jackson’s breath later that evening. Back at the hotel, one of the witnesses said he saw Jackson “pounding” on the door of his female subordinate’s room. When she opened the door, Jackson said, “I need you,” and, “I need you to come to my room.”
Witnesses also alleged that Jackson made a comment about a female medical subordinate’s breasts and buttocks during a presidential trip to Asia in April 2014. “Witness 1, a medical subordinate, told us that during the Asia trip, before arriving in Manila, RDML Jackson told him a female medical subordinate (Manila Witness 2), who was also on the trip, had ‘great t**s,’ and ‘what a nice a**,’ and that RDML Jackson also told Manila Witness 1 that he would ‘like to see more of her tattoos,'” the report says.
Two years later, in Bariloche, Argentina, two witnesses told the IG they saw Jackson drinking a beer while he was serving as the physician to the President and in charge of providing medical care for a presidential trip, despite regulations prohibiting him from 24 hours before the President’s arrival until two hours after he left. Jackson, the witnesses said, dismissed the regulation as “ridiculous.” Another witness said Jackson later smelled of alcohol, though she was unsure if he was drunk. One witness, identified in the report as “Bariloche Witness 5,” said he did not smell alcohol on Jackson during the trip.
These two allegations of alcohol use both occurred under the Obama administration, but the report details a series of incidents under both Obama and…