Tuesday, 24 October, 2017

Trump Says He's Looking 'Very Closely' at Firing His Health Secretary

Politico: Price Visited Family Members, Longtime Friends On Private Jet Trips HHS Tom Price chartered government-funded jets to places he owns property: report
Sammy Stanley | 28 September, 2017, 00:16

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the committee's ranking Democrat, sent letters Tuesday to the White House (PDF) and 24 federal agencies (PDF) to request additional information on when Price took chartered flights and for what goal.

Price's office last week sought to justify his use of chartered jets, saying charter flights are sometimes the most effective way for him to do his job.

A department official said both trips were paid for by HHS and that Price took both on official government business.

"I'm going to look at it", Trump told reporters.

Price has taken as many as 24 private flights in the past few months, costing the government an estimated $300,000.

Much like he did with immigration, Trump reportedly told lawmakers he would work with Democrats if the GOP could not get health care reform accomplished, according to Reuters.

Last week, when stories first emerged about travel by Price on charter flights, officials at the Department of Health and Human Services defended his decision to take private jets instead of commercial flights.

He has said he will halt private plane travel on official business while the internal review is being conducted.

Such flights are typically not allowed if there are cheaper commercial options, which Politico said there were for Price's flights. "And I will tell you personally, I'm not happy about it".

Trump's publicly expressed displeasure - or ambivalence - has been a sign in the past that the tenure of a key aide will soon be over.

"We'll see", Mr. Trump said.

Back in August, the president was asked if he still had confidence in Steve Bannon, then a senior strategist in the White House. He's a former orthopedic surgeon who once practiced in an inner city hospital.

The letter also accused Price of using insider information to trade healthcare stocks when he was a member of Congress. "The American people deserve cabinet secretaries who place the public good above their own private interests". The exceptions are when they are traveling with the president or vice president, who fly aboard government planes.

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