Published: Tue, March 20, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Trump Had Senior White House Staff Sign Non-Disclosure Agreement

Trump Had Senior White House Staff Sign Non-Disclosure Agreement

US President Donald Trump will unveil new plans to tackle the country's opioid epidemic on Monday, the White House said.

The president will lay out his comprehensive plan during a speech in New Hampshire, the epicenter of his administration's battle against opioids and the state where Trump learned about the epidemic.

The most controversial aspect of Trump's initiative involves how the administration plans to cut the supply of illicit drugs such as fentanyl; figures indicate fentanyl surpassed prescription opioids in 2016 as the leading driver of drug overdose deaths.

Trump raised the issue of using the death penalty for drug dealers at a rally in Pennsylvania earlier this month. "I can see it if they're Pablo Escobar, but where do you draw the line?" he said. The Trump administration hopes to accomplish that through changes in federal reimbursement rates and enhancing state prescription drug monitoring programs.

The fastest increase has come in overdoses from synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, which accounted for about 20,000 deaths in 2016, according to the CDC.

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Mr. Trump's plan will also expand treatment, although it still remains unclear how this will be funded by the administration.

President Donald Trump, upset over leaks to the media, reportedly made his senior staff sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) meant to last beyond his presidency.

"You take a look at some of these countries where they don't play games", he said, not mentioning any by name.

"Extreme proposals like using the death penalty only perpetuate a harmful stigma associated with opioid use disorders and divert attention from meaningful conversations and progress on expanding access to treatment, recovery, and other public health initiatives", he said.

Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte has waged a notoriously violent war on drug dealers, with law enforcement officers killing scores of them, often in grizzly and public ways. The plan includes proposals for reducing opiate prescriptions by a third within three years and improving treatment for addicts.

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"We call it the crisis next door because everyone knows someone", said Kellyanne Conway, a Trump senior adviser, in Sunday's press briefing, according to the Associated Press.

Donald Trump is calling for an expansion of the federal death penalty at a time when its use is being increasingly curtailed across the US.

Moreover, said the source, this confidentiality pledge would extend not only after an aide's White House service but also beyond the Trump presidency.

Monday's event marks Trump's first trip back to the first-in-the-nation primary state - and the state that that introduced the businessman-turned-politician to the opioid scourge - since he won the presidency.

Trump drew criticism past year after leaked transcripts of his telephone conversation with Mexico's president showed he had described New Hampshire as a "drug-infested den". "We pay as a country so much more for drugs because of the drugs lobbies and other reasons, and the complexity of distribution, which is basically another term for saying, 'How do we get more money?'".

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It's not clear that death sentences for drug dealers, even for those whose product causes multiple deaths, would be constitutional, said Doug Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University.

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