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Trump on whether he’ll fire Price over charter flights: ‘We’ll see’

‘I’m going to look at it. I am not happy about it, and I let him know it,’ the president says of the HHS secretary using taxpayer money to fund private jet travel.

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President Donald Trump on Wednesday expressed sharp displeasure with Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price over his use of pricey private jets at taxpayers’ expense, saying “we’ll see” when asked by reporters if he would fire Price.

“I was looking into it and I will look into it. And I will tell you personally, I’m not happy about it,” Trump said in a brief exchange with reporters. “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.”

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POLITICO revealed that Price has flown 26 times on private aircraft since last May at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars, a break with the practice of his predecessors, who generally took commercial flights.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pictured. | Getty

The Department of Health and Human Services has said Price did not violate federal travel regulations, which allow for chartered aircraft when “no scheduled commercial airline service is reasonably available.” A POLITICO review, however, showed that many of Price’s private flights were matched closely by commercial options available at a fraction of the cost.

In an interview last weekend, Price said he would stop taking taxpayer-funded private flights, telling Fox News that “We’ve heard the criticism. We’ve heard the concerns. We take that very seriously and have taken it to heart.”

Among the private flights booked by Price was a June day trip to Nashville, Tenn., where he toured a medical dispensary, spoke at a health summit organized by a friend and had lunch with his son. Price also took a chartered flight last month to a resort in Georgia where he and his wife own property, arriving a day and a half before he was to address a medical conference.

The White House has sought to distance itself from Price’s behavior, with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declining to offer a defense of the secretary’s flight choices and telling reporters this week that they were not “White House-approved travel.”

Spokespeople for the Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately return an email seeking a response from Price.

The secretary’s travels have also drawn the attention of the House Oversight Committee, which launched an investigation Wednesday into the use of private aircraft by Price and other senior government officials. The Health and Human Services Department’s inspector general has also launched an investigation into Price’s use of chartered planes.

“We welcome this review,” Price said of the inspector general’s review in his Fox News interview last weekend. “We want to make certain that we have the full confidence of not just this administration, but the American people.”

That Price has made a habit of chartering aircraft for his travels as a cabinet member is especially notable given his past criticism of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), whom Price, then a member of Congress, lambasted in 2010 for “flying over our country in a luxury jet.”

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Source: POLITICO – TOP Stories

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