(CNN) — President Donald Trump urged his Attorney General Jeff Sessions to sue certain pharmaceutical companies that have contributed to the opioid crisis in the United States.
“I’d also like to ask you to bring a major lawsuit against the drug companies on opioids,” Trump told Sessions during a Cabinet meeting on Thursday. “Some states have done it. But I’d like a lawsuit to be brought against these companies that are really sending opioids at a level that it shouldn’t be happening.”
The Justice Department has joined state lawsuits against opioid companies that officials believe have helped fuel a national opioid crisis, Sessions said, but Trump said he would like the Justice Department to pursue a separate federal lawsuit against certain drug companies. Trump did not specify which companies he would like the Justice Department to sue.
Sessions said the Justice Department is “looking at various different legal avenues to go after abusive companies.”
“You’ve made clear you want us to sue and use legal process against drug companies that are abusing the law for some time now,” Sessions said.
Trump also urged Sessions to take legal action against foreign companies, especially from China, that have contributed to the deadly flow of fentanyl into the US.
“In China, you have some pretty big companies sending that garbage and killing our people. It’s almost like a form of warfare,” Trump said. “I’d like you to do what you can legally.”
“We absolutely will,” Sessions replied, adding that the Justice Department is in the process of “returning indictments” against Chinese companies tied to the fentanyl.
Sessions also noted that the Justice Department has indicted 170 physicians who have unlawfully prescribed opioids.
The back-and-forth between Trump and Sessions came just two days after Trump unleashed his latest public criticism of his attorney general, tweeting that “if we had a real Attorney General,” the special counsel’s investigation “would never have been started.”
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