BEDMINSTER, N.J. (AP) — President Donald Trump took on the opioid drug epidemic Tuesday, pledging that “we will fight this deadly epidemic and the United States will win.”
Trump held a briefing on the matter at his private golf course in central New Jersey, where he is on a 17-day “working vacation.” Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, senior counselor Kellyanne Conway, senior adviser Jared Kushner and first lady Melania Trump were among the attendees.
The president did not announce any new policy, but vowed to work with health professionals and law enforcement on the crisis. He said federal drug prosecutions have dropped but promised he would “be bringing them up rapidly.”
He also said, “We’re very, very tough on the Southern border, where much of this comes in.”
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Trump’s drug commission, led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, recently called on him to declare a national emergency to deal with the opioid crisis. An initial report from the commission says the approximately 142 deaths each day from drug overdoses mean the death toll is “equal to September 11th every three weeks.”
The White House says it is still reviewing the recommendations in the report. Price said after the briefing that the administration can deploy the necessary resources and attention without declaring a national emergency, though he stressed “all things are on the table for the president.”
Trump drew criticism recently after transcripts of a call with Mexico’s president showed him describing New Hampshire as a “drug-infested den.” The transcripts were published in The Washington Post.
This was the first event listed on the president’s public schedule since he started his “working vacation” on Friday. Trump has pushed back against any suggestion that he is taking a summer break, tweeting that he is holding meetings and making calls while renovations have vacated the West Wing.