WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — President Donald Trump is vowing to step up efforts to combat the nation’s opioid addiction crisis.
He kicked off a commission to combat the growing problem at an event Wednesday at the White House. Trump said his administration wants “to help people who have become so badly addicted.”
“Solving the drug crisis will require cooperation across government and across society, including early intervention to keep America’s youth off this destructive path,” Trump said. “We must work together, trust each other and forge a true partnership based on the common ground of cherishing human life”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who spoke emotionally about the problem during his presidential campaign, will lead the commission.
“We’re fortunate to have Gov. Chris Christie with us. A friend of mine, a great friend of mine, a very, very early endorser, in fact, an immediate endorser once he got out of the race,” Trump said. “He like himself more than he liked me, but other than that…”
“Still do, sir, but that’s alright,” the governor responded, getting a laugh.
[graphiq id=”cgB2wcQIOkB” title=”Fatal Overdoses on Opioids in the United States Over Time” width=”600″ height=”572″ url=”https://sw.graphiq.com/w/cgB2wcQIOkB” link=”http://recreational-drugs.healthgrove.com/l/96/Opioids” link_text=”HealthGrove | Graphiq” frozen=”true”]
Trump promised to step up drug prevention and law enforcement of drug dealers, and he told one woman who lost her son to an overdose that he did not die in vain. He listened intently as others shared their stories about addiction and recovery.
“Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in our country, and opioid overdose deaths have nearly quadrupled since 1999,” he said. “This is a total epidemic.”
Others who attended the listening session included Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former New York Yankees great Mariano Rivera.
The meeting came as questions continue over the investigation of possible Russian ties with Trump associates. The Senate Intelligence Committee will hold its first hearing into Russian interference on Thursday, and at some point question Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported.
“It’s time for us to set a date, because we know exactly the scope of what needs to be asked of Mr. Kushner,” Sen. Richard Burr, R-SC, said Wednesday.
In the meantime, the White House insists that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes should not recuse himself from its investigation. This after Nunes went to the White House to view classified information, but never shared it with the committee.
“There’s nothing that I see that is problematic in him conducting an investigation that we asked both the House and Senate intelligence committees,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said.
On another front, a vote for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is scheduled for April 7, and the possibility of a Democratic filibuster looms. But Republicans say they can’t stop his confirmation.
“So I’m here to tell you he’s going to be on the Supreme Court, because he’s earned the right to be there,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, D-SC, said. “The only question is how, it’s not even when.”
A filibuster could force Republicans to use the so-called nuclear options, changing the rules to require just 51 votes to confirm Gorsuch, instead of 60.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)