President Donald Trump on Wednesday told reporters he was “not happy” with Tom Price and left the door open to firing his director of Health and Human Services.
Price has become engulfed in a controversy over his frequent use of chartered flights, which can cost taxpayers more than $US25,000 each. Politico reported earlier this week that he opted for private travel over commercial flights 24 times since May, including five such flights last week. Politico subsequently reported that Price’s private jet tab exceeded $US400,000.
“I was looking into it and I will look into it,” Trump told reporters Wednesday. “I will tell you personally, I’m not happy about it. I am not happy about it. I’m going to look at it. I let him know it.”
Trump declined to say whether he has confidence in Price, and said “we’ll see” when asked if he would fire the secretary.
Price has come under review for his flying habits, as his department’s inspector general’s office is reviewing his use of government jets to see if it violated any government travel regulations.
Price trips included flights to New Hampshire, a resort in Maine, and even a brief 135-mile trip between Washington, DC, and Philadelphia.
Before joining Trump’s administration, Price served as a Republican congressman from Georgia. As a member of Congress, he railed against what he called frivolous government spending, including similar private travel by fellow members.
On Saturday, Price told Fox News that he would cease chartering flights while that investigation is ongoing.
“We’ve heard the criticism,” Price said. We’ve heard the concerns, and we take that very seriously and have taken it to heart.”
On Sunday, Trump said “we’re looking into” Price’s chartering of flights.
Trump joked in July that he would fire Price if healthcare legislation did not pass. The Senate’s latest effort at a healthcare bill failed on Tuesday.
“He better get the votes,” Trump said at a Boy Scouts event in July. “Otherwise I will say, ‘Tom, you’re fired.'”
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