White House defends vetting of veterans affairs nominee

WASHINGTON, April 25 (Reuters) - The White House on Wednesday defended itself against charges that it had failed to adequately vet President Donald Trump's choice to be veterans affairs secretary, whose nomination has been imperiled by charges of misconduct.

"In fact, because Dr. Jackson has worked within arm's reach of three presidents, he has received more vetting than most nominees," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters, referring to White House physician Ronny Jackson.

"Given his unique position of trust and responsibility, Dr. Jackson's background and character were evaluated during three different administrations," Sanders said.

Jackson, who was nominated by Trump in March to lead the sprawling Veterans Affairs department, had been considered an unusual choice for the post given his lack of experience managing a large organization.

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Presidential physician Ronny Jackson
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with White House Physician Rear Admiral Dr. Ronny Jackson, following his annual physical at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, January 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
White House, Presidential physician Ronny Jackson answers question about U.S. President Donald Trump's health after the president's annual physical during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, U.S., January 16, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Dr. Ronny Jackson after his annual physical exam at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, U.S., January 12, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
US President Donald Trump (C) and his White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson (L) listen as US Secretary of Veterans Affairs David J. Shulkin speaks about new technology used by the Department of Veterans Affairs during an event in the Roosevelt Room of the White House August 3, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
White House, Presidential physician Ronny Jackson prepares to answers question about U.S. President Donald Trump's health after the president's annual physical during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, U.S., January 16, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Dr. Ronny Jackson after his annual physical exam at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, U.S., January 12, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 16: White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson speaks to reporters during the daily briefing in the Brady press briefing room at the White House in Washington, DC on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (C) walks with his physician Dr. Ronny Jackson (2nd R) to Marine One after visiting with troops at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center November 29, 2016 in Bethesda, Maryland. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 3: (AFP OUT) U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr.David Shulkin(right) explains equipment to White House Physician Dr. Ronny L. Jackson(left) U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd left) to be used in a new program using video and software technology to provide medical care to veterans at The White House August 3, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 24: Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, nominee for Veterans Affairs secretary, leaves Dirksen Building after a meeting on Capitol Hill with Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., on April 24, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
U.S. President Donald Trump's nominee to be U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, meets with Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) at his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 17, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
UNITED STATES - APRIL 24: Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, nominee for Veterans Affairs secretary, leaves Dirksen Building after a meeting on Capitol Hill with Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., on April 24, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 17: Physician to the President U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson meets with Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) in his office in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill April 17, 2018 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump nominated Jackson, his personal doctor at the White House, to be the new Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs after Trump fired David Shulkin on March 28. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: Veterans Affairs Secretary Nominee Dr. Ronny Jackson departs the U.S. Capitol April 25, 2018 in Washington, DC. Jackson faces a tough confirmation fight after being plagued by allegations of inappropriate behavior. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 16: Physician to the President U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson waves to journalists as he heads into a meeting with Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-GA) in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill April 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump nominated Jackson, his personal doctor at the White House, to be the new Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs after Trump fired David Shulkin on March 28. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary, speaks to members of the media while Ronny Jackson, physician for U.S. President Donald Trump, left, smiles during a White House press briefing in Washington D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. Trump�is 'very healthy' and should remain so through his presidency, according to Jackson, who examined the president last week amid criticism that the 71-year-old commander-in-chief may be unfit for office. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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John Tester, the top Democrat on the Senate committee considering the nomination, has said the panel had received allegations that Jackson had improperly distributed sleeping pills, drank excessive amounts of alcohol on overseas trips and oversaw a toxic work environment.

Earlier this week, the committee indefinitely postponed a hearing it had planned on the nomination while it looks into the allegations.

Sanders said Jackson had undergone four different background investigations, including an FBI check, and had received glowing recommendations from his superiors, including former President Barack Obama.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton Writing by Tim Ahmann and Makini Brice Editing by Bill Trott)

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