Mike Pence abruptly canceled a trip earlier this month, sparking speculation about the reason and spawning possible conspiracy theories about emergencies at the White House.
Now, the reason for the aborted trip has been revealed — the man that the vice president was going to meet was under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration for allegedly transporting more than $100,000 worth of the powerful drug fentanyl.
As Politico reported, Pence was slated to appeared at a roundtable discussion in New Hampshire about the opioid crisis, one that also included former New York Giants player Jeff Hatch. The former football player serves as chief business development officer at the Granite Recovery Centers, where the discussion was slated to take place, but officials said he was actually responsible for flooding opioid drugs into the New England area. Court documents said that the 39-year-old picked up 1,500 grams of the drugs from a Massachusetts supplier and drove them back to his home in New Hampshire, the New York Post reported.
Hatch pleaded guilty on Friday to a count of using a telephone to help commit a crime, and faces up to four years in prison.
Mike Pence had drawn national attention when he canceled at the last second, with some initial reports claiming that the plane turned around mid-flight. As Fox News reported, the organizers of the roundtable discussion announced that Pence had to return to the White House for an “emergency callback.”
President Donald Trump added to the controversy with some cryptic statements about the reason that the trip was canceled and alluded to the legal troubles in New Hampshire.
“You’ll know in about two weeks,” Trump told reporters on July 5, via the New York Post. “There was a very interesting problem that they had in New Hampshire I can’t tell you about it.”
Pence himself would not say the reason for the canceled trip, telling Fox News in an interview that he was not able to share any more details.
“Facts came to our attention that made it no longer appropriate for us to make the trip,” Pence said. “And I can’t discuss it.”
NEW: A New Hampshire man who recently pleaded guilty to facilitating illegal distribution of fentanyl worked at a treatment center Vice Pres. Mike Pence was slated to visit earlier this month—a trip abruptly cancelled without explanation. https://t.co/zchzIH9ILQ— ABC News (@ABC) July 22, 2019
Jeff Hatch had been open in the past about his struggles with addiction. Mike Pence has been active in addressing the opioid epidemic, holding meetings with law enforcement officials and traveling to areas hard hit by the rapid spread of the drug. Donald Trump said during the 2016 campaign that addressing the epidemic would be a major initiative of his administration.