Trump says he’s unhappy with Price
President Trump refused to rule out the possibility of firing Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price, saying he’s “not happy” with his use of a private plane.
“I am not happy about it. I’m going to look at it. I am not happy about it and I let him know it,” Trump said at the White House.
“We’ll see,” Trump said in response to questions about whether he planned to fire Price.
Trump spoke to reporters Wednesday on the South Lawn ahead of his trip to Indiana to tout his plan to overhaul the tax code.
The comments could increase pressure on Price to leave his post.
The top health official has been embroiled in controversy since it was revealed he took more than two dozen flights on private planes since May, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Politico first reported Price’s use of the planes.
Price has said he will stop taking private flights while the agency’s inspector general conducts a review.
“I don’t think there will be any charter trips until this review is complete,” Price said this week on Fox News. “I think that’s appropriate because of the concerns that we’ve heard.”
But Price has continued to defend the flights, saying they did not violate federal travel rules.
The Health secretary has come under withering criticism from lawmakers on Capitol Hill and former officials have said the flights break with past practices.
Former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called her successor’s use of private chartered flights “stunning.”
Sebelius, who served in the Obama administration, told Bloomberg she flew commercial and only took one chartered flight during her tenure. That flight was to visit three remote villages in Alaska.
“I have no idea who came up with this notion and where it came from, and the notion you could spend $400,000 in what, five months, is stunning,” Sebelius said.
The flight controversy comes amid the collapse of the latest Republican effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Price has taken criticism for the White House’s failed repeal push.
— This story was updated at 1:38 p.m.