Chris Christie appointed by Trump to leadership role in fighting opioid epidemic


President Donald Trump has tapped Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., for a senior leadership role in fighting the opioid crisisin America.

He will chair a special commission on the matter. The panel will fall under the new White House Office of American Innovation, rolled out by the administration on Monday.

"As a former leader in the private sector, I am proud to officially announce the White House Office of American Innovation, which will develop innovative solutions to many problems our country faces," Trump said in a statement. "One of the primary reasons I ran for president was the need for new thinking and real change."

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Donald Trump and Chris Christie
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Donald Trump and Chris Christie
Republican presidential hopefuls Donald Trump (L) and Chris Christie shake hands at the Republican Presidential Debate, hosted by CNN, at The Venetian Las Vegas on December 15, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK / AFP / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 15: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump talks to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during the CNN Republican presidential debate on December 15, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is the last GOP debate of the year, with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) gaining in the polls in Iowa and other early voting states and Donald Trump rising in national polls. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 06: Republican presidential candidates New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (L) and Donald Trump visit during a commercial break in the Republican presidential debate at St. Anselm College February 6, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Sponsored by ABC News and the Independent Journal Review, this is the final televised debate before voters go to the polls for the New Hampshire primary on February 9. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
FORT WORTH, TX - FEBRUARY 26: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump announces that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie officially supports the Trump campaign during a rally at the Fort Worth Convention Center on February 26, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. Trump is campaigning in Texas, days ahead of the Super Tuesday primary. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump (L) and Chris Christie (R) confer during a break in the Republican Presidential Candidates Debate February 6, 2016 at St. Anselm's College Institute of Politics in Manchester, New Hampshire. Seven Republicans campaigning to be US president are in a fight for survival in their last debate Saturday before the New Hampshire primary, battling to win over a significant number of undecided voters. / AFP / Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
FORT WORTH, TX - FEBRUARY 26: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announces his support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign rally at the Fort Worth Convention Center on February 26, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. Trump is campaigning in Texas, days ahead of the Super Tuesday primary. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Chris Christie, New Jersey governor, watches as Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event at the convention center in Fort Worth, Texas, on February 26, 2016. / AFP / Laura BUCKMAN (Photo credit should read LAURA BUCKMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 06: Republican presidential candidates New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (L) and Donald Trump share a laugh during a commercial break in the Republican presidential debate at St. Anselm College February 6, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Sponsored by ABC News and the Independent Journal Review, this is the final televised debate before voters go to the polls for the New Hampshire primary on February 9. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump get the endorsement of former candidate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during a rally at the Fort Worth Convention Center. Texas is the big prize in the upcoming Super Tuesday primary on March 2. (Photo by Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images)
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) campaigns for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (L) during a rally at Millington Regional Jetport on February 27, 2016 in Millington, Tennessee. / AFP / Michael B. Thomas (Photo credit should read MICHAEL B. THOMAS/AFP/Getty Images)
MILLINGTON, TN - FEBRUARY 27: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie walk up to speak during a campaign event in Millington, TN on Saturday Feb. 27, 2016. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) campaigns for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (L) during a rally at Millington Regional Jetport on February 27, 2016 in Millington, Tennessee. / AFP / Michael B. Thomas (Photo credit should read MICHAEL B. THOMAS/AFP/Getty Images)
BENTONVILLE, AR - FEBRUARY27: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie introduces Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump at a campaign rally in an airplane hanger at Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport on February 27, 2016 in Bentonville, Arkansas. Georgians will vote on Super Tuesday, March 1, for their candidates for president. (Photo by Benjamin Krain/Getty Images)
BENTONVILLE, AR - FEBRUARY27: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie introduces Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump at a campaign rally in an airplane hanger at Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport on February 27, 2016 in Bentonville, Arkansas. Georgians will vote on Super Tuesday, March 1, for their candidates for president. (Photo by Benjamin Krain/Getty Images)
Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, left, and Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, wave to attendees during a campaign rally at the Port Columbus International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, U.S., on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. State officials were reporting strong turnout for Super Tuesday balloting, the closest thing yet to a national referendum on Trump, the brash New York billionaire who has thrown out the traditional rules of campaigning. Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, right, speaks on stage with Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, during a Super Tuesday night event in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., on Monday, March 1, 2016. Trump is poised to collect enough delegates in 11 Super Tuesday contests nationwide tonight to give him a firmer grip on the party's presidential nomination that would be difficult for rivals to break. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, right, and Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, arrive for a campaign rally at the Port Columbus International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, U.S., on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. State officials were reporting strong turnout for Super Tuesday balloting, the closest thing yet to a national referendum on Trump, the brash New York billionaire who has thrown out the traditional rules of campaigning. Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg via Getty Images
LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH, 1: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie introduces Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Kentucky International Convention Center March 1, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. Trump is campaigning nationwide on Super Tuesday, the single largest primary voting day. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
HICKORY, NC - MARCH 14: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, right, wave to the crowd during a campaign rally at Lenoir-Rhyne University March 14, 2016 in Hickory, North Carolina. The North Carolina Republican primary will be held March 15. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, and New Jersey governor Chris Christie shake hands as supporters cheer at Lenoir-Rhyne University on March 14, 2016 in Hickory, N.C. (Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
HICKORY, NC - MARCH 14: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, right, acknowledge the crowd during a campaign rally at Lenoir-Rhyne University March 14, 2016 in Hickory, North Carolina. The North Carolina Republican primary will be held March 15. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
HICKORY, NC - MARCH 14: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, addresses the crowd during a campaign rally with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, right, at Lenoir-Rhyne University March 14, 2016 in Hickory, North Carolina. The North Carolina Republican primary will be held March 15. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (L) and US Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump (R) depart a rally March 14, 2016 in Vienna Center, Ohio. The six remaining White House hopefuls made a frantic push for votes March 14, 2016 on the eve of make-or-break nominating contests, with Donald Trump's Republican rivals desperate to bar his path after a weekend of violence on the campaign trail. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
VIENNA, OHIO - MARCH 14: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie walk out to speak during a campaign event at Winner Aviation in Vienna, Ohio on Monday March 14, 2016. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
VIENNA, OHIO - MARCH 14: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is introduced by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during a campaign event at Winner Aviation in Vienna, Ohio on Monday March 14, 2016. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) introduces US presidential hopeful Donald Trump during a rally March 14, 2016 in Vienna Center, Ohio. The six remaining White House hopefuls made a frantic push for votes March 14, 2016 on the eve of make-or-break nominating contests, with Donald Trump's Republican rivals desperate to bar his path after a weekend of violence on the campaign trail. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
US Republican frontrunner Donald Trump speaks at Trump Tower in New York on April 26,2016 after winning primaries in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware. Second from left is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: Donald Trump speaks at a press conference with his wife Melania Trump and Governor Chris Christie announcing his primary victory in 5 states: Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Delaware on April 26, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Sands/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters and the media with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie behind him at Trump Towers following the conclusion of primaries Tuesday in northeastern states on April 26, 2016 in New York, New York. Trump again gained more delegates to move him closer to the Republican presidential nomination. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ - MAY 19: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump hugs New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at the Lawrenceville National Guard Armory in Trump's first public campaign appearance in New Jersey on May 19, 2016 in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. The appearance with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is a $200 per head event with proceeds going towards helping Christie, a Trump ally, pay off debt from his own presidential campaign. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (L) and New Jersey governor Chris Christie greet the crowd at a fundraising event in Lawrenceville, New Jersey on May 19, 2016. / AFP / EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ (Photo credit should read EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: Republican presidental nominee Donald Trump (L) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) attend the September 11 Commemoration Ceremony at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum on September 11, 2016 in New York City. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump attended the September 11 Commemoration Ceremony. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (L), Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (C) and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) stand together during a memorial service at the National 9/11 Memorial September 11, 2016 in New York. The United States on Sunday commemorated the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump stands with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie before their meeting at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
U.S. President Donald Trump (R) thanks New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (2nd L) for joining him for an opioid and drug abuse listening session at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 29, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner (L-R) and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie join U.S. President Donald Trump for an opioid and drug abuse listening session at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 29, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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The appointment comes on the same day as former Christie associate Bill Baroni was sentenced to two years in prison for the Bridgegate scandal. Christie has denied any links to the matter, and local prosecutors announced in January he will not be charged in the case.

Christie told "Good Morning America" the idea behind the administration's new approach to the anti-addiction fight will be to assist the Center for Disease Control.

"They do need the help, and this White House is going to step up to help them," the governor said.

Heading up the supervising Office of American Innovation, however, is White House aide Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law. He and Christie have history. When Christie served as New Jersey's U.S. Attorney more than a decade ago, he helped put Kushner's father, Charles Kushner, in prison for financial crimes.

Both have denied any lingering animus.

"Listen, that stuff is ancient history. It's over 12 years ago. And Jared and I have worked incredibly well on this issue and, by the way, on a whole bunch of other issues during the campaign," Christie said Wednesday.

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Twitter reactions to Chris Christie and Donald Trump
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Twitter reactions to Chris Christie and Donald Trump
Chris Christie is signalling for help. #DonaldTrump #trump #GOP #SuperTuesday https://t.co/dHvFddWfz4
Chris Christie right now #SuperTuesday https://t.co/N6pUsGKRqn
That's me in the corner That's me in the spotlight Losing my religion https://t.co/1ZkAMG9KcV
Chris Christie has been re-enacting Mike Myers' "Uh-oh, Kanye is veering off the script... What do I do?" Face for 15 solid minutes.
Chris Christie looks like a guy who suddenly isn't sure if he turned the stove off before he left for work. https://t.co/as8uqtChbd
Chris Christie standing behind Trump now at his speech like a hatchet man... what is his role now? #SuperTuesday
Chris Christie looks like my dog when she realizes our car ride was to the vet
chris christie looking kinda feckless tbh
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Kushner told Forbes in November: "Six months ago, Gov. Christie and I decided this election was much bigger than any differences we may have had in the past, and we worked very well together."

A centerpiece of Christie's long-shot campaign was the drug crisis, especially in the early primary state of New Hampshire, which has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic, where the relatively moderate Northeastern politician banked much of his efforts.

In a moment that was widely viewed as the highlight of his campaign, a video clip showed Christie in a townhall meeting emotionally describing the death of a law school friend, who succumbed to addiction.

"When I sat there as the governor of New Jersey at his funeral, and looked across the pew at his three daughters, sobbing because their dad is gone — there but before the grace of God go I," he said. "It can happen to anyone. And so we need to start treating people in this country."

Additionally, he has dedicated his last year as governor to tackling "the crisis of drug addiction." Critics of Christie, however, have noted his past as a drug warrior, his support for many of the laws the consequences of which he later critiqued, and his continued opposition to legalization.

Copyright 2017 U.S. News & World Report

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