Trump Says Drug Czar Nominee Withdrew Name After Bombshell Report

Joseph T. Rannazzisi

Some Democratic lawmakers are calling on President Donald Trump to withdraw his nomination of Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy following a report that found Marino spearheaded a law that undermined the Drug Enforcement Authority's (DEA) ability to go after drug distributors.

On Monday, the President had promised to reverse his nomination of Mr Marino to if "it's 1 percent negative to doing what we want to do".

An investigative article published Sunday by the Washington Post details complaints by prominent former officials in that agency claiming that the federal ability to crack down on drug companies' unscrupulous opioid distribution had been severely limited by the bill.

Speaking to Fox News' Brian Kilmeade's radio show on Tuesday, Trump said Marino explained why he made a decision to withdraw his name.

Marino's bill eventually sailed through the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, and was later signed by then-President Barack Obama on April 19, 2016. Marino sponsored legislation that effectively made it much more hard for DEA to crack down on suspicious narcotic shipments from drug distribution companies, stripping the agency of its authority, the news outlets reported. The law passed in 2016 after Republican Senator Orrin Hatch negotiated a final version with the DEA, the Post and 60 Minutes said.

Marino was the "chief advocate" for the legislation, the report says. Marino could not immediately be reached Tuesday for comment.

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The resignation comes amid allegations that Marino had shown favoritism to drug companies and helped them avoid scrutiny during the growing opioid epidemic.

The Justice Department, under which the DEA operates, said Tuesday it will review the law's impact on the government's enforcement powers.

An initial report from the commission in July noted that the approximately 142 deaths each day from drug overdoses mean the death toll is "equal to September 11 every three weeks". He said his administration would declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency next week ― something he originally promised in August.

Trump first said during his "working vacation" in August he would make such a decree.

The U.S. consumes more opioids than any other country, Trump's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis concluded in a report in July.

McCaskill, the senior Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has been investigating the role of pharmaceutical distributors in fueling the opioid crisis.

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