The White House on Wednesday doubled down in its defense of embattled Veterans Affairs nominee Ronny Jackson, who faces a range of accusations including drinking on the job and creating a toxic work environment.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters that Jackson’s record has been “impeccable” and that background checks revealed “no areas of concern." Sanders also noted that Jackson has worked “within arm's reach of three presidents.”
“Given his unique position of trust and responsibility, Dr. Jackson’s background and character were evaluated during three different administrations,” she said. “Dr. Jackson has had at least four independent background investigations conducted during his time at the White House including an FBI investigation conducted as part of the standard nomination vetting process.”
Sanders noted that he had received “glowing evaluations” including several from President Obama. Fox News obtained documents showing glowing praise from Obama, calling him “a tremendous asset to the entire White House team.”
Sanders’ remarks come after President Donald Trump had backed Jackson a day earlier, saying he stood by Jackson no matter what but, “If I were him … I wouldn’t do it.”
“It’s totally his decision, but he’ll be making a decision,” Trump said of Jackson.
The comments come after The New York Times and others reported that Jackson has been accused of overseeing a hostile work environment as White House physician, drinking on the job and allowing the overprescription of drugs. A 2012 report by the Navy's Medical Inspector General accused him of exhibiting "unprofessional behaviors" amid a power struggle over the White House medical unit.
Amid the allegations, Jackson's confirmation hearing originally set for Wednesday was postponed.
Jackson met with Trump in the Oval Office on Tuesday. The Associated Press reported that the president urged him to keep fighting to win confirmation, and that Jackson denied the allegations.
Jackson is the latest Trump official to be dogged by controversy in an administration filled with controversies and departures.
Trump’s pick for secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has struggled to get past a Senate panel, while Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget chief and interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is in hot water after he reportedly said he only met with lobbyists who had contributed to his campaign.
“We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress,” Mulvaney said at an American Bankers Association conference in Washington this week, according to the Times. “If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.”
But amid a seemingly endless litany of complaints about Trump officials, it opens the door for the White House and Trump allies to blame the Jackson controversy on Democratic obstructionism and even over-reaction.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, noted that one of the drugs Jackson is supposed to have doled out was sleep aid Ambien. According to the Times, Cornyn said it was not a problem that Jackson distributed such drugs as he was a doctor.
“On overseas travel, yeah, sure, people take Ambien to help them transition through time zones,” he said. “It’s pretty common, I’m led to believe.”
Fox News’ Judson Berger and The Associated Press contributed to this report.