- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 26, 2019

President Trump donated his third-quarter salary of $100,000 to the fight against opioid crisis Tuesday, but the gesture didn’t impress the Baltimore youths who booed first lady Melania Trump as she took the stage at a summit on the drug problem.

Mr. Trump’s pay will be sent to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health, which is leading the fight against the national epidemic of prescription painkiller, heroin and fentanyl addiction. Roughly 70,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2017. About two thirds of those deaths involved an opioid.

“While the number of Americans who misused opioids decreased from 11.4 million in 2017 to 10.3 million in 2018, President Trump continues to lead his whole-of-government effort to turn the tide on the American opioid epidemic,” a senior administration official said.

Mr. Trump, who hasn’t released his tax returns but is estimated to be worth billions, has been donating his presidential paycheck to various agencies and causes.

His second-quarter salary went to the surgeon general’s office.

Previous donations went to the National Park Service, National Institutes of Health, Small Business Administration and the departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Transportation, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security and Agriculture.

Mr. Trump in 2017 deemed the opioid crisis to be a public health emergency, so he wants to see progress heading into election season.

Mrs. Trump visited the B’More Youth Summit in Baltimore to discuss her focus on the opioid epidemic and how it impacts families. The crisis is a key plank of her “Be Best” campaign that promotes the well-being of young Americans.

Greeted by a mix of cheers and notable boos, Mrs. Trump told young people not to be dragged down by drugs.

“I know each one of you has hopes and dreams for the future, whether it is college, joining the military, or playing a sport, your future will be determined by the choices you make,” she said. “Using drugs will only slow you down and prevent you from achieving those goals. I encourage you to use the resources available in your community so that nothing can stand in your way.”

“I’m in this fight with you and I’m fighting for you,” she added. “I encourage you, if you are struggling with addiction right now, reach out for support.”

Mrs. Trump had to contend with a noisy audience as she spoke and faced more boos as she left the stage.

Kate Bennett, a CNN reporter who has covered the first lady extensively, said she cannot recall another event where Mrs. Trump was more negatively received.

She also said it was the first loud booing of Mrs. Trump at a solo event that she can recall.

The president tangled with Baltimore earlier this year. He sparked outrage in July by describing the city as a “disgusting, rat and rodent-infested mess.”

He also accused Democrats of mismanaging the city.

Rep. Pete King, New York Republican, said the crowd reaction was inappropriate.

“Absolutely disgraceful that the First Lady was repeatedly booed at Youth Opioid Summit in Baltimore,” he tweeted. “If any issue should be free from abusive, rude behavior, it should be protecting kids from opioids. Has the left no sense of decency?!?”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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