WASHINGTON — Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson withdrew his bid to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs but is staying on as physician to the president at the White House despite facing a slew of misconduct allegations.
Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Thursday that he remains "a doctor in the United States Navy assigned to the White House and is here at work today."
Ivanka Trump, first daughter and assistant to the president, called Jackson "a man of exceptional integrity, character and intellect."
"We are grateful for his long and distinguished service to our Nation and look forward to continuing to see his warm smile each day at the White House! " she tweeted.
But Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., who led the Senate investigation of Jackson, said he is urging his fellow lawmakers to continue the probe.
Nearly two dozen current and former colleagues told Senate investigators that Jackson repeatedly drank on duty, has an “explosive” temper and garnered the nickname “candy man” among White House staff because of his prolific prescription practices.
Jackson vehemently denied the charges Thursday, calling them "baseless" and "completely false and fabricated."
"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," he said.
Jackson, 50, started work as a White House doctor in 2006, was promoted to director of the White House Medical Unit in 2011 and became physician to the president in 2013.
He has faced misconduct allegations before. Independent investigations in 2012 and 2013 found he exhibited "unprofessional behaviors" and recommended the White House consider removing him.
He is currently up for promotion to two stars, but some senators said Thursday that they are unsure they would support his elevation from one-star admiral.
CNN reported Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., first wants to "know more about the allegations," while Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., is calling for a "full inspector general investigation."
Both President Barack Obama and Trump gave him glowing performance reviews, according to portions of the reviews released by the White House. After examining Trump earlier this year, Jackson proclaimed him to be in “excellent” health and said he had “incredibly good genes.”