President Donald Trump’s former chief physician, Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson, retired from the Navy on Sunday even as the Defense Department’s Inspector General continues to investigate allegations that he was periodically intoxicated and mishandled prescription drugs, CNN has learned.
Jackson withdrew from consideration to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs in light of similar allegations last year.
Former Navy Secretary Richard Spencer approved Jackson’s retirement before his ouster, according to a senior DOD official. Jackson did not respond to a request for comment.
Typically military officials under inspector general investigation are not allowed to retire until the probe is completed. However, there are provisions for personnel to retire while under investigation under the condition they might be brought back on active duty to face disciplinary action if wrongdoing is found in administrative matters such as the allegations facing Jackson.
In that case, standard military procedures would allow for Jackson to be brought back on active duty and face a reprimand or even a reduction of rank in his retirement, which could impact his pension — though Trump could also overturn any potential disciplinary action.
Dwrena Allen, spokeswoman for the inspector general, told CNN that the investigation remains ongoing. Two other officials tell CNN that it has been difficult to conduct the investigation because all requests for interviews or information have had to go through the White House.
Trump re-nominated Jackson to receive a second star — a bump in his military rank — in February, though that promotion was not approved by the Senate. This came less than a year after Jackson withdrew from consideration as Trump’s nominee for secretary of Veterans Affairs over allegations that he was “abusive” toward colleagues, loosely handled prescription pain medications and was periodically intoxicated. Jackson denied all of the allegations leveled against him, calling them “completely false and fabricated.”
CNN has previously reported that Jackson is considering a run for Congress in Texas, according to a source familiar with his plans. A Texas native, Jackson is eyeing a run as a Republican in the 13th District, which opened after longtime GOP incumbent Mac Thornberry announced his retirement. Trump won the district by 63 points in 2016.
Jackson also served as a physician for Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.