After all of the uncertainty around why Vice President Mike Pence abruptly canceled a trip to New Hampshire earlier this month, we finally have an explanation from Politico: He was slated to shake hands with an ex-NFL player who allegedly moved more than $100,000 of fentanyl across state lines.
What President Trump had earlier teased as a “very interesting problem” in the state as the reason for the last-minute decision turns out to have been an effort to avoid Pence having to cross paths with a man at the center of a DEA probe who works at the treatment center the vice president was set to visit. As Politico reports:
Jeff Hatch, who agreed in federal court Friday to plead guilty and will face up to four years in prison, works for an opioid addiction treatment center in southern New Hampshire that Pence was set to visit. A former New York Giants player, he has spoken publicly for years about his own challenge with drug and alcohol addiction, which ended his football career.
Federal court documents released Friday said Hatch was caught in 2017 with 1,500 grams of fentanyl. A baggie of the drug sold on the streets of New Hampshire is usually about one-tenth of a gram.
According to the site, Hatch agreed to help authorities net people higher up on the fentanyl supply change in exchange for a more lenient sentence of up to four years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.
“Interesting” isn’t the word I’d ascribe to what’s probably a very sad backstory—Hatch was apparently also active in anti-opioid programs for students and athletes—but that’s just me. (Also, why not just tell Hatch he couldn’t come to the event?) I’ve reached out to the White House for comment and will update this post if I hear back.