WILLIAMSPORT -- On Monday afternoon, President Trump addressed a CBS 60 Minutes/Washington Post report that is highly critical of Congressman Tom Marino.
The president said he will be determining if that report about opioid oversight will impact his choice to make Marino the national drug czar.
That report revealed the Republican congressman from Lycoming County sponsored a bill that may have made the opioid epidemic worse. Marino's bill limits the way the nation's drug enforcement agency, or DEA, can stop large shipments of opiates.
Many constituents in Tom Marino's district--which includes a big part of our area--want answers. Staffers at his Washington office said the phones were ringing off the hook after the report aired on 60 Minutes.
Rep. Marino was one of the first Republicans to back Donald Trump in the 2016 election, so after the Washington Post/CBS story criticized him for sponsoring that narcotics bill, Newswatch 16 went out to try to find Congressman Marino to get his response.
As we walked to the home office of Congressman Tom Marino in Williamsport, so did Michael Briel of Williamsport. He saw the news report claiming that a bill cosponsored by Marino last year made it easier to get painkillers, namely, opiates.
"I was pissed," said Briel. "I know people who are involved with it. I know people who died, and it upsets me."
Briel came to Marino's office to talk about the bill that may have contributed to the deadly opioid epidemic that's led to countless deaths, including here in the 10th Congressional District.
"They're making a killing, and people are dying. People are dying. It's not right," Briel added.
Marino was nowhere to be found.
A 60 Minutes and Washington Post investigation found that the four-term congressman is partially responsible for what a former DEA agent claims stripped the agency of its ability to stop suspicious shipments of prescription drugs, opiates that in many cases, wound up on the streets.
The questions over that bill have come fast. It passed without objection from any lawmakers and was signed into law by President Obama.
The report was scathing for Marino, a former prosecutor and current nominee for U.S. drug czar.
Now after the critical news report, Governor Tom Wolf says he doubts Marino can serve as drug czar, and President Trump wants to speak with Marino about the report.
Trump said his administration will be looking closely at Marino's bill and how it came to be, suggesting it could change his mind on Marino's nomination.
"Well, he's a good man. I have not spoken to him, but I will speak to him, and I'll make that determination. And if I think it's one percent negative to what we want to do, I will make a change," President Trump said.
At his office in Williamsport, Lycoming County Coroner Chuck Kiessling came to Marino's defense. Kiessling has been on the forefront of fighting the deadly opioid epidemic and believes the fourth term congressman only meant to help people who need access to medicine. He also believes Marino would make a good drug czar.
"He's seen all aspects of the prosecution side of drug cases, knows what's going on in the community. I think he is very well qualified for that position." Kiessling said.
As for Michael Briel, he left Marino's office without answers. We couldn't find Marino either, not at his office, his home, or by calling his phone.
"I want to talk to him about it. He grew up around the corner from me. He was DA here. He should know better than this."
Briel doesn't plan to give up.
"I think we have to talk to Tom and find out why he sponsored this bill. If it's about money and power, vote him out. Friend or not, I don't care. It's not right."
The report said the drug industry spent more than $100 million lobbying Congress for the bill and that Marino got almost $100,000 for his campaign.
Marino's Washington office told us Monday the congressman was home in his district, but his local office told us Marino was in Washington. Where he actually was remains unclear.