President Donald Trump said Monday that the White House is taking a damning report about his pick for drug czar “very seriously.”
The president nominated Republican Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino, one of the first congressmen to endorse Trump, to be the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in September. This nomination hit a roadblock Sunday with a joint report from The Washington Post and “60 Minutes” that revealed that Marino spearheaded legislation that gutted the Drug Enforcement Agency’s ability to go after drug distributors.
“The drug industry, the manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and chain drugstores, have an influence over Congress that has never been seen before,” Joseph Rannazzisi, a former DEA official, told The Washington Post. “I mean, to get Congress to pass a bill to protect their interests in the height of an opioid epidemic just shows me how much influence they have.”
Trump told reporters at the Rose Garden that Marino is “a great guy,” but added, “We are going to look into the report.”
“We are going to look into it very seriously,” Trump continued. Earlier in the day, Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin asked Trump to withdraw his nomination of Marino.
“Congressman Marino no longer has my trust or that of the public that he will aggressively pursue the fight against opioid abuse,” Sen. Manchin wrote in a letter to the White House.
An epidemic of opioid addiction around the nation is taking thousands of lives and has lowered the life expectancy of Americans. Trump said at the press conference that he will be formally declaring the opioid crisis a national emergency next week.