WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Tom Marino, the president’s top pick for drug czar, removed himself from the list of Trump nominees Tuesday after a report surfaced suggesting the Pennsylvania Republican is soft on enforcing drug laws.
“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!” the president tweeted Tuesday after being notified of Marino’s decision.
Marino’s withdrawal comes on the heels of a joint report by CBS’ 60 Minutes and The Washington Post (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/10/17/trump-says-drug-czar-nominee-tom-marino-is-withdrawing-after-washington-post60-minutes-investigation/?utm_term=.caace5cf1488) which claimed Marino had worked to water down legislation and weaken the Drug Enforcement Administration’s ability to go after high-level drug dealers.
The report alleged that Marino, who was the chief advocate for a 2016 bill at the center of the investigation, used legislation to disarm the Drug Enforcement Administration during the height of the crisis, thus weakening the DEA’s control over opioid drug distributors.
Both Democrats and Republicans had called on the president to remove Marino from consideration in light of the WaPo report, but as of Monday President Trump had failed to make a formal decision on the matter.
“He was a very early supporter of mine. … He’s a great guy,” Trump said during a press conference on Monday adding, “We’re going to look into the report. We’re going to take it very seriously. … We’re going to be looking into Tom.”
During a Tuesday morning interview on Fox News Radio with host Brian Kilmeade,
Trump praised Marino and said he understood his decision to remove himself from consideration.
“He was very gracious,” Trump said. “He didn’t want to even have the perception of a conflict of interest with drug companies or insurance companies.”
“There was a couple of articles having to do with him and drug companies,” Trump said. “And I will tell you he felt compelled. He feels strong about the opioid problem and the drug problem, which is a worldwide problem, it’s a problem that we have. And Tom Marino said, ‘I’ll take a pass, I have no choice, I’ll really take a pass, I want to do it.’ He was very gracious, I have to say that.”
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who led Democrats on Monday in opposing Marino’s nomination, praised Trump over the announcement.
“Thanks for recognizing we need a drug czar who has seen the devastating effects of the problem,” Manchin said in a tweet to the president.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, (R)-Utah, who had worked with Marino to co-sponsor the bill, defended the legislation on Monday, calling allegations that either of the two had “conspired” with drug companies “utterly ridiculous.”
I’m “no patsy” of the drug industry, said Hatch.
Calls for statement from Rep. Marino were met with “no comment”.