President Donald Trump's pick as head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy has withdrawn his name from consideration for the job after a pair of reports that he championed a law that hindered federal efforts to combat opioid abuse.
The president said in a tweet on Tuesday that Representative Tom Marino (R-PA) has withdrawn his name from consideration as drug czar, calling him a "fine man and a great Congressman." Marino has come under heavy scrutiny in recent days after reports from The Washington Post and CBS's (CBS) - Get Report "60 Minutes" revealed how he helped steer legislation making it harder for the Drug Enforcement Authority and Justice Department to act against drug companies.
Trump in a Monday press briefing alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he had seen the report and "we're going to take it very seriously," adding that he would be "looking into" Marino.
"We're going to have a major announcement, probably next week, on the drug crisis and on the opioid massive problem. And I want to get that absolutely right," he said. "This country -- and, frankly, the world -- has a drug problem. The world has a drug problem. But we have it, and we're going to do something about it."
Trump in August said the opioid epidemic is a "national emergency" but has yet to file any paperwork declaring it so.
The law Marino championed was negotiated in its final version by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), both of whom received thousands of dollars from super PACs representing the drug industry. It makes it virtually impossible for the DEA to freeze suspicious narcotic shipments from pharmaceutical companies. Few beyond those close to the legislation understood its implications, according to the Post, including former President Barack Obama, who signed the bill into law in April 2016.