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Trump gives his VA nominee Ronny Jackson option to drop out of confirmation process

Naavy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, President Donald Trump's nominee for VA secretary, is facing scrutiny from allegations regarding his behavior in the workplace. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump’s nominee for the secretary post of Veterans Affairs, Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, has faced serious questions about both his qualifications and his conduct this week. Now the president says it’s up to Jackson to decide whether he wants to withdraw his name, Politico reported.

“I really don’t think, personally, he should do it,” Trump told reporters Tuesday regarding whether Jackson should continue with the process.

Jackson was scheduled to testify before a Senate committee Wednesday, but the hearing was postponed as senators wanted more time to consider allegations against the White House physician.

Trump’s comments

Trump suggested Tuesday that the confirmation process might not be worth the trouble for Jackson in light of all the controversy.

“I said to Dr. Jackson, ‘What do you need it for?’ So we’ll see what happens,” Trump said. “I don’t want to put a man through a process like this. It’s too ugly and too disgusting. So we’ll see what happens. He’ll make a decision.”

“I’d let it be his choice,” Trump continued. “But he’s a man who has just been an extraordinary person. His family, extraordinary success, great doctor, great everything, and he has to listen to the abuse that he has to. I wouldn’t, if I were him — actually, in many ways I’d love to be him — but the fact is, I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t do it. What does he need it for?”

Trump nominated Jackson after firing previous VA Secretary David Shulkin last month.

Jackson is a Navy rear admiral who has served the last three administrations as a White House physician and was appointed as physician to the president by Barack Obama in 2013.

What are the allegations?

Members of Congress already had concerns about whether Jackson’s professional background, which lacks large-scale managerial experience, qualified him to lead the Veterans Affairs department, an agency of more than 370,000 employees.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has been investigating allegations that Jackson oversaw a hostile work environment in the White House, allowed the overprescribing of drugs, and allegedly “drank too much on the job.”

“The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is postponing the hearing to consider the nominee to be secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in light of new information presented to the committee,” read a joint statement from Sens. Jonny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.). “We take very seriously our constitutional duty to thoroughly and carefully vet each nominee sent to the Senate for confirmation. We will continue looking into these serious allegations and have requested additional information from the White House to enable the committee to conduct a full review.”

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