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A 24-year-old is running drug policy because experts won't work for Trump

The toxic environment in the White House has led to national drug policy being run in part by a recent college graduate whose only qualification was working on the Trump campaign.

By Alison R. Parker - January 14, 2018
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It is wholly understandable that no one wants to work for Donald Trump. But it is also potentially putting the nation in grave danger when it means that key positions are filled by people who lack any demonstrable qualifications.

The Washington Post reports that the latest troubling example is at the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), where a 24-year-old recent college graduate — whose professional experience includes little more than working on the Trump campaign — has been named deputy chief of staff.

Taylor Weyeneth, who just under one year ago was an undergraduate at St. John’s University in New York, quickly rose through the ranks to occupy a job recently held by a lawyer and a longtime government official. And because the ONDCP currently lacks a permanent director, Weyeneth is helping to fill that role alongside acting director Richard Baum.

As the Trump administration weakly attempts to address the growing opioid crisis, at least seven appointees to the ONDCP have left the agency, leaving much of the crucial duties that would be filled by a chief of staff and general counsel in the hands of Weyeneth.

But the Post noted glaring inconsistencies on different versions of Weyeneth’s resumé, such as differing dates of employment at past jobs — including “Director of Production” at a family firm that specialized in processing chia seeds, but was discovered in 2011 to also be processing illegal steroids from China. Weyeneth’s stepfather pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges.

One of Weyeneth’s resumés said he had worked at the firm until 2013, while another said he left in September 2011.

Further, Weyeneth indicated that he held a Master’s Degree in political science, but the Post noted discrepancies in the dates, and was told by an administration official that Weyeneth did not actually hold the degree, but had noted the date “as projections of when he expected to receive it.”

And even his role on the Trump campaign seems to have provided little to no relevant experience to the high-level job he now holds at ONDCP.

He handled campaign tasks such as “coordinating voter services, and arranging travel and temporary housing for senior campaign officials. He also worked directly with Rich Dearborn, then director of Trump’s transition team, on ‘special projects,’ according to one of his resumés,” the Post noted.

Unless those “special projects” including drug abuse education or something similar, it is difficult to see how Weyeneth could come across as qualified to hold the deputy chief of staff role in charge of overseeing the nation’s drug control policies and addiction responses.

But of course, in the Trump administration, a lack of qualifications and knowledge is practically considered an asset.

Trump seems to prefer people who are embarrassingly ill-equipped to fill the jobs for which they’re nominated and who have fraudulently pumped up their resumés to try to cover up that fact.

Indeed, even among Trump’s cabinet, it’s a point of amusement how incompetent they are.

And of course, all of these people, down to young Weyeneth, have been installed in their ill-fitting roles by a man who embodies the very concept of being the wrong person for the job.

The opioid abuse epidemic is a rapidly expanding crisis, one that threatens millions of lives each year — more than breast cancer, and in 2016, more than the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War.

It requires a vehement response, one based on scientific expertise and run by the very best minds the country has to offer.

To Trump, that includes his wife and a recent college graduate who helped book travel arrangements for campaign staffers.


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