WILLIAMSPORT -- President Donald Trump says Congressman Tom Marino has pulled his name from consideration to be the national drug czar. It comes after Marino was a focus in a scathing report on opioid oversight.
President Trump said on a radio broadcast Tuesday morning that the congressman from Lycoming County wants to avoid any potential conflict of interest.
We wanted to hear an explanation from the congressman himself.
We've reached out to Congressman Marino several different ways, even stopping by his home and office in the Williamsport area, but again, he was nowhere to be found.
Just two days after a highly critical CBS 60 Minutes and Washington Post report aired, President Donald Trump tweeted that Congressman Tom Marino, a Pennsylvania Republican, has withdrawn his name from consideration to become the nation's next drug czar.
"I think that's probably a good thing to do in this situation until all the facts are revealed about this bill," Maddi Dunlap.
The report that aired on 60 Minutes on Sunday revealed the Republican congressman from Lycoming County co-sponsored a bill that may have made the opioid epidemic worse.
Marino's bill limits the way the nation's drug enforcement agency (DEA) can stop large shipments of legal opiates.
For the second day, Newswatch 16 made calls to Marino's Washington office and stopped by the one in Williamsport looking for answers.
This time, workers wouldn't even tell us anything and Mr. Marino is still nowhere to be found.
"I think Mr. Marino has a lot to answer for. People have tried to reach out to him before to have town hall meetings and he won't come out. That's a problem," Dunlap said.
"I kind of ignored it. I know him. I know his family personally, and I respect him as a congressman and a person so I still stand with Tom Marino," said Amanda Hoover.
In Williamsport in Marino's district, constituents have polarizing opinions about their congressman. However, it seems everyone can agree on one thing: the opioid epidemic is real and there needs to be a change.
"I think they are coming after Tom Marino and it's not all him," Hoover said.
"We have such huge problem here. It's huge and we've been fighting on so many levels and to think that somebody in a great position who could be a helper may have been doing the opposite, it's sickening," Dunlap added.
Late Tuesday afternoon, Marino issued the following statement:
“Today I informed President Donald Trump of my intent to withdraw my name from any further consideration to lead ONDCP (Office of National Drug Control Policy).
“As a former prosecutor who has dedicated my life to aggressive and faithful enforcement of our laws, I have reached the difficult decision that the best course of action is to remove the distraction my nomination has created to the utterly vital mission of this premier agency.
“At the same time, given my lifelong devotion to law enforcement, I insist on correcting the record regarding the false accusations and unfair reporting to which I have been subjected.
“I’m proud of my work on the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016, which passed with unanimous consent in the House and Senate, unopposed by the DEA and was signed into law by President Obama. This landmark legislation will help to facilitate a balanced solution for ensuring those who genuinely needed access to certain medications were able to do so, while also empowering the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to enforce the law and prevent the sale and abuse of prescription drugs.
“Given these facts and the importance of this legislation, find it sad and disheartening that the news media have left behind any concept of balanced reporting and credited conspiracy theories from individuals seeking to avert blame from their own failures to address the opioid crisis that proliferated during their tenure. Specifically, I cannot allow false allegations made by a former DEA employee, who resigned from the agency. He was the subject of a professional conduct investigation and his assertions may be motivated by financial self-interest, to overshadow the real problems with prescription drug abuse in this country.
“I will continue to support President Trump in his mission to get the people’s government back to working in their best interests – not those who seek to maintain the status quo.
“I look forward to remaining in service to the people of Pennsylvania’s Tenth Congressional District and continuing my long record of championing solutions to better equip law enforcement to combat drugs.”