On CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper, Portman discussed his stunning new bipartisan report released yesterday that details how drug traffickers exploit vulnerabilities in our international mail system to easily ship synthetic drugs like fentanyl from China into the United States. A hearing was held on the report earlier today. Portman also discussed the FBI’s Russia investigation into their meddling in the U.S. election and his hope that investigators will deliver a thoughtful, nonpartisan report to the American people sooner rather than later.

Excerpts of the interview can be found below and a video can be found here.

PORTMAN ON OPIOID CRISIS, FENTANYL INVESTIGATION

We have to do more, but we have actually done a lot in terms of funding and changing some laws already. As you know, I’m the co-author of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which has put more money against this problem, but more importantly, it’s put it towards evidence-based things that are actually working in terms of treatment and recovery and prevention. Hundreds of millions of dollars more was spent this year than last year, but we have to do it again. We have to actually up the spending further because the crisis has not abated. It’s gotten worse, not better. In my home state of Ohio, we had more overdoses this last year, we believe, than the previous year. Our biggest problem in Ohio now is not heroin, it’s this synthetic opioid coming through the United States mail system. That’s what our report was on that was issued last night and our hearing was on today. It is outrageous to me that as a government we’re not pushing back more on that. We know for a fact this opioid problem is being made much worse by synthetic heroin made in China, shipped through our mail system to our citizens' houses. We traced this. We came up with a shocking report last night showing how this is happening, showing how easy it is to buy the stuff, and how the U.S. mail system is being used as a conduit.”

PORTMAN ON RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE

We have to rely on these investigations. I've supported the Mueller investigation from the start because we need to get to the bottom of this. I also think the Senate Intelligence Committee's doing good, bipartisan work. I will say, Jake, I hope they report pretty soon. You know, I think the American people are looking for some answers here, but the underlying problem, as you recall, is that the Russians meddled in our election. We need to find out why they did it, how they did it, how we avoid it in the future. And there's a broader problem here, which is that they are doing the same with a lot of our allies. They’re trying to disrupt our alliances around the world, they’re trying to undermine our institutions, and that's a serious issue. We’ve got to get to the bottom of it.”

PORTMAN ON THE FBI

Let’s let the FBI look into these allegations of misconduct. It is clear to me that some of the people involved, some of the prosecutors, had strong political beliefs. The question is, did they allow those political belief to influence their work? If they did, it’s good they were booted, and Mueller took steps, as I understand it, to at least relieve one them of their duties. But second, we need to know about that, but that’s something the FBI ought to investigate. I’m sure that Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department are very interested in doing that. I just think we have to kick this back into the process and allow the American people to see a thoughtful, nonpartisan report on this.”

PORTMAN ON COLLUSION

As I’ve said in the past, I think he's [President Trump] being too defensive. In other words, I think he does not believe there's been any collusion, and, by the way, I've seen no evidence of collusion either. I don't think any of us have. Let's allow these investigations to go through and have the facts go where they may. So he is responding to some on the other side who are claiming collusion without any evidence, so, yeah, he's going to push back and say, ‘I was there. There was no collusion.’ Again, let's allow these reports to be completed, let’s allow the Senate Intelligence Committee to do its work, which is more focused on the Russia threat. Let’s allow the special counsel and FBI to do their work. My understanding is he has offered to speak with the special counsel. I think that's a positive development. I hope we can have these reports come out sooner rather than later.”

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