Former Health Secretary: Price's use of chartered flights is 'stunning'

April FrancisSep 28, 2017

President Donald Trump said Wednesday he is "not happy" with Health Secretary Tom Price following reports of his extensive use of publicly-funded private jets and indicated he has not ruled out firing the former Georgia congressman over the trips.

Asked if he will fire Price, Trump responded, "We'll see".

The House Oversight and Government Reform committee is launching a wide-ranging examination of air travel by high-ranking Trump officials following reports about Price's trips.

A small number of Cabinet members, military officials and law enforcement officials are allowed to travel on government planes for national security reasons. At about the same time, there were connecting commercial flights from Raleigh to Brunswick via Atlanta that would have gotten Price to St. Simons Island that evening.

Lawmakers are demanding records by October 10. According to Politico, the list includes at least two expensive chartered flights to locations where Price's "work responsibilities" were at best minimal, but where - just by accident, of course - he either owned property or had family to visit.

Price's travels were first reported by Politico, which said it has identified 26 charter flights at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars, in many cases where cheaper commercial flights were a viable option.

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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.

On Wednesday, reporters asked Trump about Price's travels.

Back in August, the president was asked if he still had confidence in Steve Bannon, then a senior strategist. I am not happy with it.

"I'm not happy about it".

HHS' Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Charmaine Yoest said that the chartered flights were booked due to Price's "incredibly demanding" schedule, and that the department looks at all possibilities for travel before booking accommodations. I'm going to look at it.

The committee has given Mr Price two weeks to hand over the records. "The review focuses on whether the travel complied with Federal Travel Regulations, but may encompass other issues related to the travel", said Tesia Williams, a spokeswoman.

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