President Donald Trump said Tuesday that his pick to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, White House physician Ronny Jackson, will decide whether it’s worth it to pursue the post after lawmakers postponed a hearing on his nomination in light of several allegations.
“I don’t want to put a man through a process like this. ... It’s totally his decision,” the president told reporters at the White House, according to Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree. “I will tell you, he is one of the finest people that I’ve met.”
Lawmakers indefinitely postponed a hearing, scheduled for Wednesday, to consider Jackson’s nomination. The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs’ top Republican and its top Democrat said in a joint statement that the decision was made “in light of new information presented to the committee.”
“We take very seriously our constitutional duty to thoroughly and carefully vet each nominee sent to the Senate for confirmation,” Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, and Jon Tester, D-Montana, said in the statement. “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.”
The congressmen also sent a letter addressed to Trump on Tuesday asking for "all documentation pertaining to Rear Admiral Jackson's service in the White House Medical Unit and as Physician to the President."
Committee members didn’t elaborate on the allegations levied against Jackson, although The New York Times reported that they include accusations that Jackson oversaw a hostile work environment while serving as White House doctor, that he allowed for drugs to be overprescribed and that he might have drank while on the job.
Jackson declined Tuesday to answer questions from reporters about the allegations.
"I'm looking forward to rescheduling the hearing and answering everyone's questions," Jackson told reporters on Capitol Hill, according to CNN.
Trump nominated Jackson to fill the role left vacant after he fired David Shulkin from the position late last month. Shulkin had been a top holdover from President Barack Obama’s administration, but he clashed with Trump administration officials and faced criticism over his use of resources.
Jackson, a U.S. Navy rear admiral, was appointed in 2013 as physician to the president by Barack Obama.