WASHINGTON — President Trump indicated on Monday the White House would formally declare a national emergency over the opioid crisis as soon as next week and signaled he may withdraw his nomination for drug czar.
“We are going to be doing that next week,” Trump said in an impromptu Rose Garden press conference. “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.”
Separately, he said he was aware of a Washington Post report over the weekend that outlined how Republican Rep. Tom Marino (Pa.), now Trump’s nominee to be drug czar, pushed a bill that weakened the Drug Enforcement Administration’s enforcement over suspicious drug manufacturers and distributors. Asked whether he had confidence in Marino, Trump said: “We’re going to be looking into Tom.”
“If I think it’s one percent negative to doing what we want to do, I will make a change, yes,” Trump said, referring to his decision to nominate Marino to run the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
In July, a panel chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie recommended in an interim report that Trump declare the nation’s ongoing crisis with opioid addiction and overdoses a national emergency.
Tom Price, the health secretary until last month, later indicated the administration did not feel such a step was necessary, only to be undercut days later by Trump telling reporters he planned to make the emergency declaration.
Trump reaffirmed that position on Monday, reiterating the issue’s complexity and stressing how labor-intensive the leadup to the forthcoming actions had been.
“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,” Trump 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.”