Trump backs VA pick but publicly floats withdrawal

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"I really don't think he should do it, but it's totally his decision", Trump said.

Prior to Jackson's nomination, Trump had told aides and outside advisers that he was fond of Jackson personally and was said to be particularly impressed with Jackson's performance at the White House press room podium in January, when he offered a glowing report on the president's physical and mental well-being.

In a statement Tuesday, Chairman Johnny Isakson, R-GA, and Ranking Member John Tester, D-Mont., said, "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".

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., a member of the veterans committee, said that "if the allegations were based in fact, it would be concerning". After the meeting, the White House began publicly defending Jackson. He says Jackson has a record of "strong decisive leadership" and is "exactly what's needed at the VA". "These very serious questions about Admiral Jackson need answers, and the answers should have been ready well before the questions were raised publicly".

Ronny Jackson, Trump's White House doctor, says he was "disappointed" that Wednesday's confirmation hearing had been postponed. "Are they going to manage the secretary or is the secretary going to manage the VA?" "Secondly, you just saw a Democratic senator, Tester, coming out and saying basically, in the case of Jackson, that you were looking at a clean Federal Bureau of Investigation vetting".

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".

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, of Hawaii, a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, said she had "deep concerns" about Jackson. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., a member of the panel.

Jackson is also a blank slate on one of the major policy questions facing the VA: how large a role the private sector should play in veterans' health care.

Speaking with reporters, neither Isakson nor Tester said Jackson's nomination should be withdrawn. "That's not acceptable", Tester said.

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Isakson said the confirmation hearing is being delayed because the committee needs "some time to get more information". "Let's give the man a chance to be heard, let's give us a chance to ask the questions that need to be [asked]". Kuhlman left in 2013.

Jackson also allegedly handed out drugs to staff during trips that involved several time changes.

Later, the White House released hand-written reports from Obama and Trump praising Jackson's leadership and medical care, and recommending him for promotion.

"Admiral Jackson has been on the front lines of deadly combat and saved the lives of many others in service to this country".

Trump tapped Jackson last month after firing former Obama administration official David Shulkin following an ethics scandal and mounting rebellion within the agency. But Jackson, who has worked as a White House physician since 2006, has faced numerous questions from Republican and Democratic lawmakers as well as veterans groups about whether he has the experience to manage the massive department of 360,000 employees serving 9 million veterans.

His nomination in peril, Veterans Affairs nominee Ronny Jackson fought Tuesday to convince lawmakers of his leadership abilities as more details of accusations against him emerged, ranging from repeated drunkenness to a toxic work environment as he served as a top White House doctor.

"This Trump administration has done the worst job of vetting their nominees of any administration I can remember", Schumer said.

The process seemed disorganized, according to two VA officials with knowledge of how the preparations were handled.

Tester said in an interview with National Public Radio's All Things Considered that the allegations included that Jackson created a hostile work environment, overprescribed drugs and was "repeatedly drunk while on duty, while traveling" on presidential trips overseas.