Washington (AFP) – Presidential doctor Ronny Jackson withdrew his nomination to head the Department of Veterans Affairs on Thursday following allegations he improperly handed out drugs and was drunk at work.
“I am regretfully withdrawing my nomination to be Secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs,” Jackson said in a statement.
Jackson insisted that the allegations against him were false, but said he was withdrawing anyway due to the distraction they were causing.
“Unfortunately, because of how Washington works, these false allegations have become a distraction for this president and the important issue we must be addressing — how we give the best care to our nation’s heroes,” Jackson said.
Jackson’s withdrawal came just a day after he indicated that he would fight on, telling reporters that his shock nomination was “still moving ahead as planned.”
Trump surprised even his closest aides a month ago with an evening tweet announcing the Navy rear admiral was his pick to run the 370,000-plus person agency.
Jackson was the physician to presidents Trump, Barack Obama and George W. Bush and was well regarded by many current and former White House staff.
But he was widely seen as vastly underqualified to run a notoriously dysfunctional government agency and already faced a tough battle for congressional confirmation.
Following the announcement, a tidal wave of allegations surfaced over his behavior, from passing out at work to dolling out drugs to staffers like the “candy man” and crashing a government vehicle.
Senate Democrats released a litany of allegations on Wednesday, citing “conversations with 23 colleagues and former colleagues.”
The allegations included handing out sleeping tablets on Air Force One, opioids to at least one White House staffer and prescribing drugs for himself.
“On at least one occasion, Dr Jackson could not be reached when needed because he was passed out drunk in his hotel room,” according to a document released by Senator Jon Tester, a Democrat.