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Trump's Nominee To Run The Veterans Affairs Department Has Dropped Out

Ronny Jackson had faced allegations of excessive drinking, overprescribing drugs, and leading a "toxic" work environment.

Last updated on April 26, 2018, at 8:59 a.m. ET

Posted on April 26, 2018, at 7:56 a.m. ET

Carlos Barria / Reuters

President Trump's embattled nominee to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, Ronny Jackson, has withdrawn his name from consideration, Jackson announced Thursday.

"Going into this process, I expected tough questions about how to best care for our veterans, but I did not expect to have to dignify baseless and anonymous attacks on my character and integrity," Jackson said in a statement.

Jackson, who serves as the White House physician, had faced allegations of alcohol abuse, overprescribing drugs, and leading a "toxic" work environment. The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee had scheduled Jackson's confirmation hearing for Wednesday but was forced to delay it.

Trump, asked about Jackson's withdrawal on Fox & Friends Thursday morning, said "I saw where this was going," and blamed Democrats for trying to prevent some of his nominees from moving through the Senate. "It's horrible what they're doing," he said.

The president also defended Jackson against the allegations against him, calling him "highly respected" and the allegations "false."

"There's no proof of this, he has a perfect record, he has this beautiful record," Trump said. He specifically blamed Montana Sen. Jon Tester for publicly releasing the allegations on Wednesday, saying Tester, a Democrat, would have "problems" because of this in his reelection campaign.

Jackson also denied the allegations against him, saying, "If they had any merit, I would not have been selected, promoted, and entrusted to serve in such a sensitive and important role as physician to three presidents over the past 12 years."

Ultimately, he said he stepped down because the "false allegations" had become a distraction from the real issue of figuring out "how we give the best care to our nation’s heroes."

"I am proud of my service to the country and will always be committed to the brave veterans who volunteer to defend our freedoms," Jackson said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear if Jackson would remain in his current job, but White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, "Admiral Jackson is a doctor in the United States Navy assigned to the White House and is here at work today."

But on Monday, Trump signaled the end of Jackson's nomination was near, telling reporters that if he were Jackson, he would drop out.

"If I were him — actually, in many ways I would 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 said, suggesting that Jackson drop out not because of the allegations, but because of partisan politics. "To be abused by a bunch of politicians that aren't thinking nicely about our country."

Trump quickly nominated Jackson, a United States Navy rear admiral, with few top aides looped into the decision, which he announced on Twitter late last month. Jackson did not go through the full formal processes that usually take place before the president decides on a cabinet official — he had no interview and little vetting or opposition research — to ensure a smooth Senate confirmation.

Jackson has been well-liked by presidents from both parties, and Trump was pleased with the way Jackson touted the president’s “excellent" health for more than an hour at a White House press briefing in January. Jackson stood at the podium answering repeated questions about Trump’s physical and cognitive health, saying the president had “great genes.”

Trump said on Fox & Friends that he has another nominee in mind for the VA, but would not disclose it on the show. The person, Trump said, is "somebody with political capability."

This is a developing story. Check back soon for updates and follow BuzzFeed News on Twitter.

Paul McLeod contributed to this report.

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