US Attorney General Jeff Sessions discusses opioid crisis
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions put in a plug for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee on Friday as he touted the role of law enforcement in reducing addiction and overdose deaths plaguing Maine and New England.
Sessions said Brett Kavanaugh is the son of a prosecutor who understands the role of judges and respects the role of law enforcement. He added that courts shouldn’t been seen “as an opportunity to advance an agenda.”
“We’re in safer hands in my view when a judge calls balls and strikes and doesn’t take sides in games,” he said.
Sessions was joined in Portland by Uttam Dhillon, the new acting director of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. attorney for Maine, Halsey Frank, as about 200 demonstrators gathered outside.
He noted that approximately 64,000 people nationwide died from drug overdoses in 2016, roughly the population of Portland, Maine’s largest city.
Sessions says that the drug crisis is a “top priority” for the Trump administration as powerful fentanyl increases the stakes.
The attorney general discussed Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge, which he announced the day before in Concord, New Hampshire. The program will focus on Maine, New Hampshire and six other states with high rates of opioid deaths.
Addressing Maine, Sessions marveled at how the state is the second-safest in the country when it comes to reported crime rates while overdose deaths are double the national rate.
He said Maine already received another three federal prosecutors, and a fourth is being added under the new program.
Law enforcement can help to reduce drug addiction by disrupting the supply chain and, ultimately, saving lives, he said.
“Together we can break the vicious cycle of drug abuse, addiction and overdose that has devastated countless American families,” he said.
Outside, about 200 demonstrators gathered outside of the buildings that house offices of the U.S. attorney and FBI to criticize Trump administration policies including forced separations of families at the Mexican border.
Two women, one from Maine, one from New York, were arrested for criminal trespass when they blocked a garage entrance and refused to leave, police said.