WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — President Donald Trump said the Pennsylvania congressman he nominated to be the nation’s drug czar is withdrawing from consideration for the job.
Trump’s announcement Tuesday follows reports that Republican Rep. Tom Marino played a key role in passing a bill signed in 2016 that weakened the Drug Enforcement Administration’s authority to stop companies from distributing opioids.
“Rep. Tom Marino has informed me that he is withdrawing his name from consideration as drug czar. Tom is a fine man and a great Congressman!” Trump tweeted.
“He told me, look, if there’s even a perception that he has a conflict of interest, he doesn’t want to have anything to do with it,” Trump told Fox News Radio.
Trump had raised the possibility Monday of withdrawing Marino’s nomination after the reports by The Washington Post and CBS’ “60 Minutes” which found the bill may have allowed the deadly opioid epidemic to worsen in the U.S.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had said confirming Marino as the nation’s drug czar would be like “putting the wolf in charge of the henhouse.”
Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill has introduced legislation to repeal the law.
“When DEA signs off and the DOJ signs off and Democrats and Republicans sign off together, it’s not unusual for something like this to roll through without much fanfare,” she said.
Trump on Monday said he is committed to fighting the opioid epidemic and plans to declare a national emergency.
“It’s a very important step; to get to that step, a lot of work has to be done, and it’s time consuming work. We’re going to be doing it next week, OK?” he said.
As part of the war on opioids, the Department of Justice on Tuesday announced indictments against two Chinese nationals who allegedly used the internet to sell fentanyl to drug traffickers and individuals in the U.S.
More than 64,000 Americans died in 2016 from drug overdoses, most from opioids.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)