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Top Kelly deputy leaving to lead drug policy office

A top aide to White House chief of staff John Kelly is leaving his post to take a role as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the White House confirmed late Friday. Jim Carroll has been nominated to lead ONDCP which has yet to have a director more than a year into President Trump's tenure, despite Mr. Trump's claims that fighting the opioid crisis is a top priority.    

A White House official claimed to CBS News' Katiana Krawchenko the move has nothing to do with the politics of what's happening with Kelly. The White House is working to quash reports that Kelly is willing to resign over his response to allegations of domestic abuse leveled against top White House aide Rob Porter.

"The president intends to nominate Jim Carroll to serve as the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told the White House press pool. "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. Fighting the opioid crisis and drug addiction is a priority for this administration. We greatly appreciate Jim for his counsel and leadership during his tenure at the White House and look forward to the future contributions he will make in this new role."

CNN first reported the news of Carroll's departure. 

That source said Carroll's move has to do with his experience in prosecuting drug-related crimes. 

"The ONDCP is an open sore here frankly, and that's what's driven this," the source said. 

Mr. Trump has said combatting the opioid epidemic is key to his administration, but critics have said his actions don't match his words. 

A source told CBS News's Jacqueline Alemany last month that the president plans on basically gutting ONDCP by slashing more than $340 million from its budget. The proposed cuts by the Office of Management and budget are a part of plans to effectively dismantle the office by nixing hits grant-making capabilities. The president is expected to release his budget proposal as early as Monday.

ONDCP has been hamstrung since Mr. Trump took office as he has yet to nominate a new director, informally known as the nation's drug czar. Mr. Trump has also made some questionable staffing appointments. The Washington Post reported last month that a 24-year-old former campaign staffer was serving as the second in command at ONDCP. 

Mr. Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency in October, but the White House has not formally asked Congress for any additional funding towards the crisis. 

The president's earlier nominee for drug czar, Tom Marino, withdrew his name for consideration in October after a joint investigation by CBS' "60 Minutes" and The Washington Post found Marino advocated for helping disarm the Drug Enforcement Administration at the height of the opioid crisis. A bill he pushed weakened the DEA's control over opioid drug distributors. 

 CBS News' Kathryn Watson contributed to this report. 

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