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VA nominee withdraws from consideration

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Ronny Jackson, President Donald Trump’s nominee to serve as Veterans Affairs secretary (all times local):

8 a.m.

White House doctor Ronny Jackson is withdrawing from consideration as Veterans Affairs secretary. Jackson says “false allegations” against him have become a distraction.

The White House sent out a statement from Jackson Thursday morning. He says he “did not expect to have to dignify baseless and anonymous attacks on my character and integrity.”

Jackson has faced a series of accusations about his workplace conduct, including that recklessly prescribed drugs and exhibited drunken behavior.

Trump chose Jackson to head the VA last month after abruptly firing Obama administration official David Shulkin.

Jackson was a surprise choice who has worked as a White House physician since 2006. He faced immediate questions from Republican and Democratic lawmakers about whether he had the experience to manage the VA, which has 360,000 employees serving 9 million veterans.

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7:40 a.m.

White House doctor Ronny Jackson is considering withdrawing his nomination to serve as secretary of Veterans Affairs. That’s while he struggles with allegations that include recklessly prescribing drugs and drunken behavior.

A senior administration official says Jackson still denies most of the allegations against him, but says he is increasingly frustrated by the process. The source wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss internal deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The White House is still defending Jackson but also preparing for the possibility that he will withdraw from consideration.

Democratic Senate staff put together accusations against Jackson from conversations with 23 current and former colleagues at the White House Medical Unit. Their summary includes accusations that Jackson crashed a government vehicle while he was intoxicated.

—By Catherine Lucey.

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12:14 a.m.

White House doctor Ronny Jackson exhibited a pattern of recklessly prescribing drugs and drunken behavior, including crashing a government vehicle while intoxicated and doling out such a large supply of a prescription opioid that staffers panicked because they thought the drugs were missing, according to accusations compiled by Democratic staff on the committee considering his nomination as Veterans Affairs secretary.

The summary was based on conversations with 23 of Jackson’s current and former colleagues at the White House Medical Unit. It is the latest blow to his nomination to lead the government’s second-largest Cabinet agency.

In just a matter of days, the allegations have transformed Jackson’s reputation as a celebrated doctor attending the president to an embattled nominee accused of drinking on the job and over-prescribing drugs. He was seen pacing back and forth on the White House grounds Wednesday.

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