The vice president was still on board Air Force Two when he mysteriously scrapped a 2 July visit to the state to discuss the opioid crisis, leaving reporters guessing about the reasons the flight was suddenly called off.
According to a report on Politico, Mr Pence’s staff had learned from law enforcement officials that ex-NFL player Jeff Hatch – a drug treatment centre expert the vice president was set to meet – was being probed for allegedly moving fentanyl across state lines.
Hatch has since pleaded guilty to a federal trafficking charge and faces up to four years in jail after he was caught bringing the drug from Massachusetts to New Hampshire.
“I am shocked and disappointed to learn today that Jeff Hatch has pleaded guilty to a drug offence,” said Granite Recovery Centres CEO Eric Spofford, who said the treatment facility had “terminated” the former New York Giant player’s employment.
It was revealed the vice president had been sitting on board Air Force Two and was ready to leave for New Hampshire, a state plagued by opioid addiction, when the decision was taken was to return to the White House.
At the time his spokeswoman Alyssa Farah tweeted that “something came up that required the VP to stay in DC”.
A few days later Donald Trump stoked speculation about the incident.
Asked about Mr Pence’s sudden schedule change, the president said: “You’ll know in about two weeks. There was a very interesting problem that they had in New Hampshire.”
When asked what kind of problem had prevented the trip, Mr Trump said: “I can’t tell you about it … it had nothing to do with White House.”
Hatch, who played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as well the Giants during his NFL career, had spoken openly about his battle with drug and alcohol addiction.
The 39-year-old revealed he began taking opioids after suffering a back injury in his twenties.
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