Donald Trump has appointed his former doctor as his assistant and chief medical adviser despite an ongoing investigation into allegations of professional misconduct.
Dr Ronny Jackson, who has also been nominated for a promotion to two-star admiral, first emerged as a controversial figure last year when he said the US president had “excellent” physical and mental health.
He was later forced to withdraw as Mr Trump’s nominee for the role of veterans affairs secretary after Democrats published a two-page summary of allegations about the rear admiral’s behaviour in office.
It was claimed Dr Jackson had crashed a government car while driving drunk, created a hostile work environment and was known as “Candyman” due to his drug prescribing practices.
The admiral was also found “passed out drunk in his hotel room” on at least one occasion when his medical help was required, it was reported.
Dr Jackson said the allegations were “completely false and fabricated” but decided not to take up the post at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the US government’s second-largest agency, which oversees the healthcare and benefits for some 20 million people.
He said: “I expected tough questions about how to best care for our veterans, but I did not expect to have to dignify baseless and anonymous attacks on my character and integrity.”
Dr Jackson, who has been praised by Mr Trump as an “incredible man” who “runs a fantastic operation”, was appointed physician to the president by Barack Obama in 2013.
He was replaced by Sean Conley after his nomination to head up Veterans Affairs but remained in the White House medical unit.
The Department of Defence Office of Inspector General is still investigating Dr Jackson, although it has not given details of the nature or scope of the probe.
A White House official said Mr Trump considers Mr Jackson a trustworthy medical adviser and doctor. His appointment to serve as assistant to the president and chief medical adviser was announced on the White House website.
Additional reporting by Associated Press