President Trump on Wednesday appointed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie – a former rival and deposed head of his transition team – to lead a White House commission to combat drug addiction and named Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi a commission member.
During a White House listening session on Wednesday, Trump, Christie, Bondi, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other Cabinet members and policy makers heard from a recovered addict, the founder of a drug treatment center and a mother whose son had overdosed and died.
“I am honored to be appointed to the President’s Opioid and Drug Abuse Commission,” Bondi said in a press release. “I want to thank the president of the United States, Governor Christie and many others for caring about this deadly epidemic.”
During an event at Caron Renaissance in Boca Raton in 2015, Christie – then a candidate for president – said his empathy for addicts came from his personal experience with his mother’s cigarette addiction and a law school friend’s overdose death from painkillers.
The commission is being rolled out as part of a new office led by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has had a frosty relationship with Christie, a former U.S. attorney.
Christie obtained convictions against Kushner’s father in 2004 and 2005 for illegal campaign contributions, criminal tax evasion and witness tampering.
Kushner and Christie had lunch together at the White House on Tuesday to discuss the administration’s drug policy. Exactly what the commission will do and how it will be financed is not yet known.
But Christie offered some details about his plan while speaking at Caron Renaissance in 2015.
“First you have to change the mindset of prosecutors,” candidate-Christie said. “Sometimes justice means prosecuting and sometimes it doesn’t.”
Christie said he would create drug courts in each of the 93 federal court districts and use the money saved by diverting addicts from prison to provide more public drug treatment.
Christie’s position leading the new commission is a volunteer one. However, people close to him say that he is open to potentially joining the administration when his term ends in January.