WASHINGTON — President Trump will nominate a top White House aide as the nation's drug czar, the White House said Friday as it announced a list of 31 nominations and appointments in the Executive Office of the President.
Perhaps the biggest move: The nomination of deputy chief of staff James Carroll to serve as the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, filling a key position that's been vacant for more than a year, even as the opioid crisis has mounted. He will serve as acting director until confirmed by the Senate.
"We have full confidence in Jim to lead ONDCP to make significant strides in combatting the opioids crisis, reducing drug use, and coordinating U.S. drug policy," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
Before joining the Trump administration, Carroll was a lawyer for the Ford Motor Co. and held various legal posts in the George W. Bush administration.
The White House announcements largely represented a reshuffling of top jobs just past the one-year mark of the Trump presidency.
They allow Chief of Staff John Kelly to create a new organizational chart to account for a raft of departures and job switches in Trump's chaotic first year. But the timing of the announcements also come as speculation mounts about the future of Kelly himself after a top White House aide resigned this week amid domestic violence allegations that had held up his security clearance for more than a year.
Many of the 31 personnel announcements consisted of title bumps or formal announcements of officials already serving in their jobs. They include:
► John DeStefano as counselor to the president. He adds oversight of political affairs and public liaison to his portfolio of presidential personnel.
► Derek Lyons as acting White House staff secretary. As the deputy staff secretary, he'll fill in for Rob Porter, who resigned Thursday amid allegations of domestic violence.
► Hogan Gidley as special assistant to the president and deputy press secretary. Gidley, a longtime campaign operative, has been on the job since October and is a high-profile White House spokesman on cable television.
He had been considered a top contender for deputy White House chief of staff, a position vacated when Kristjen Nielsen was confirmed as the Secretary of Homeland Security.
The drug czar's post has been without a permanent incumbent since the beginning of the Trump administration, with two acting directors.
Trump's first nominee for the job, Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., withdrew his nomination in October after a Washington Post report revealed his involvement in crafting a bill to neuter the ability of drug agents to crack down on black market shipments of opioids.
The ONDCP's chief of staff was fired in December, and presidential Counselor Kellyanne Conway has been running opioid policy out of her office in the West Wing.