TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Monday denied making comments attributed to him in a published report that claims he said Donald Trump's "presidency is over" if he doesn't recognize the seriousness of the opioid crisis.
Democratic former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy told The Washington Post that the Republican governor made the comments. Kennedy, who represented Rhode Island in the House but now lives in New Jersey, serves on the federal opioid commission that Christie chairs.
In a statement issued Monday, Christie said the remarks attributed to him about the Republican president "are false" and "I speak for myself" on this issue.
"Let me be very clear. I know that President Trump understands this issue and supports fighting this epidemic aggressively," Christie said. "In the days ahead, I am confident that the President's actions will speak louder than anything else."
Kennedy said commission members are worried that their recommendation that Trump declare a national emergency on opioids will not be adopted. It was made in a preliminary report issued this summer, and Trump is expected to make an announcement on opioids this week.
"Christie doesn't mince words," Kennedy told the newspaper. "He said, 'If he doesn't recognize this as the issue of our time, his presidency is over.'" Kennedy added that Christie, an early supporter of the president, said he had conveyed this sentiment to Trump himself.
The commission has said its estimate of 142 deaths each day from drug overdoses mean the death toll from the epidemic is "equal to September 11th every three weeks." The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 2015, drug overdoses killed more than 52,000 Americans.
The commission's final report is due Nov. 1.