"Mr. Weyeneth has decided to depart ONDCP at the end of the month," Shah said
Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency in October
A former Trump campaign official who rose to a senior position with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy despite his lack of experience will step down at the end of the month, a White House official tells CNN.
The departure comes after a Washington Post investigation found that Taylor Weyeneth, a 24-year old former Trump campaign employee, had misrepresented his credentials, including his level of education and work at a New York law firm.
“Mr. Weyeneth has decided to depart ONDCP at the end of the month,” Raj Shah, principal deputy White House press secretary, said Thursday.
Weyeneth’s rapid rise inside the White House office tasked with combating the nation’s opioid epidemic, something Trump has personally said he is committed to, raises questions about the office’s influence inside the West Wing and ability to coordinate the administration’s response to the epidemic.
Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency in October and reaffirmed that classification earlier this year. Trump, during an event announcing the epidemic, said “we can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic.”
More than 63,000 people were killed by a drug overdose in 2016, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics, making the year the most lethal yet during the overdose epidemic. Over 42,000 – or roughly 66% – of the deaths involved opioids.
Weyeneth, who joined the office in 2016, had been promoted to deputy chief of staff at the drug office in July.
Since Trump’s inauguration, the drug office has been plagued by staff turnover and scuttled nominations.
Lawrence “Chip” Muir, the acting chief of staff and general counsel for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, was dismissed from the office in December.
And in October, Rep. Tom Marino, Trump’s initial pick to be the nation’s next drug czar, pulled his nomination after a joint CBS “60 Minutes” and Washington Post report revealed that Marino took nearly $100,000 from the pharmaceutical lobby while sponsoring a bill that made it easier for drug companies to distribute opioids across American communities and thwart the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s former campaign manager and his White House counselor, has been a vocal proponent for efforts to combat the opioid crisis and acts as the primary West Wing aide addressing the epidemic.
CNN’s Jim Acosta contributed to this report.