Drug Czar Candidate Withdraws After Report Linking Him to Opioid Crisis

Marino. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Tom Marino, the Republican Pennsylvania congressman who had been nominated for the position of drug czar in the Trump administration, withdrew his name from consideration for the job on Tuesday morning after a blockbuster Washington Post/60 Minutes report detailed his role in a push to prevent law enforcement from cracking down on drug-company malfeasance in the midst of the country’s worst addiction crisis ever.

President Trump broke the news of Marino’s decision on his Twitter feed.

On Monday, Trump said he was “looking into” whether Marino’s nomination was still viable in the aftermath of the exposé, ahead of what he billed as a “major announcement” on the opioid crisis next week.

On Sunday, the Washington Post and 60 Minutes detailed how Marino, with the help of powerful drug companies, had led efforts to pass the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act, which President Obama signed into law in 2016. The law, vociferously opposed by the Drug Enforcement Administration, watered down rules allowing the agency to crack down on drug companies that had unscrupulously allowed strong prescription narcotics to flood the streets. Abuse of such pills was the first step for many Americans to move on to heroin and fentanyl, greatly intensifying a still-worsening drug epidemic that has seen hundreds of thousands of deaths in recent years.

In the wake of the report, some Democratic lawmakers urged Trump to reconsider Marino’s nomination. West Virginia senator Joe Manchin wrote in a letter to the president that Marino had “tied the hands of the DEA in their efforts to enforce our nation’s laws.”

A previous version of this article erroneously stated that Marino had been nominated to head the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Drug Czar Pick Out After Report Linking Him to Opioid Crisis