Trump says he'll take investigative report on drug czar pick 'very seriously'

President Trump said he was going to take a Washington Post and "60 Minutes" joint investigation "very seriously" after both news outlets published reports suggesting his pick for drug czar led efforts to weaken enforcement of drug policing laws.

Trump also said his administration would be officially declaring the opioid epidemic a national emergency next week. It’s been more than two months since Trump said his administration was drafting paperwork to do so.


Trump said he saw the in-depth news reports released Sunday, which detailed legislation that reportedly weakened the Drug Enforcement Administration’s authority to halt drug distributors while the nation faces a major opioid epidemic.

Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.), whom Trump nominated in early September to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy, was reportedly the lead advocate for the legislation.

Trump called Marino — an early backer of Trump — a “good man,” adding he hadn’t spoken to Marino on Monday. Marino hasn’t had a confirmation hearing in the Senate, and Senate Judiciary Committee aides said his paperwork has not been completed.

The reports drew quick backlash from Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Energy: Trump ends talks with California on car emissions | Dems face tough vote on Green New Deal | Climate PAC backing Inslee in possible 2020 run Dems face tough vote on Green New Deal Gabbard cites ‘concerns’ about ‘vagueness’ of Green New Deal MORE (D-W.Va.), whose home state has been hit particularly hard by the opioid epidemic. Manchin asked Trump to withdraw Marino's nomination in a letter sent Monday.

The state's other senator, Republican Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoDems slam EPA plan for fighting drinking water contaminants GOP senator: Border deal is 'a very good compromise' Push to include contractor back pay in funding deal hits GOP roadblock MORE, said in an emailed statement that "Congressman Marino will need to address the accusations that were raised in yesterday’s Washington Post story during his confirmation hearings."  

“If I think it's one percent negative to doing what we want to do, I will make a change," Trump told reporters on Monday when pressed about the reports. It was unclear if he was referring to the legislation or to Marino.

As for the national emergency declaration, Trump said it’s “time-consuming work,” but that the official declaration will be made next week. This was the “first and most urgent” recommendation in an interim report from the president’s commission to address the opioid epidemic, and a final report is due Nov. 1 from the commission.

Since 1999, deaths from prescription painkillers and heroin have more than quadrupled, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.