Trump opens door to possibly fire HHS Secretary Tom Price over private jet charters

Trump opens door to possibly fire HHS Secretary Tom Price over private jet charters 

Posted: 2:02 pm Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

By Jamie Dupree

With a U.S. House committee now asking for details about private charter jet travel at taxpayer expense by HHS Secretary Tom Price and other top administration officials, President Donald Trump on Wednesday left open the possibility that he might fire the former Georgia Congressman, bluntly telling reporters he is ‘not happy’ with news reports about Price’s flights.

“I will tell you personally, I’m not happy about it,” the President told reporters as he left the White House on Wednesday afternoon for a speech on tax reform.

“I am not happy with him,” Mr. Trump said of Price, who left Congress earlier this year to join the Trump Administration.

Asked by reporters if he might fire Price, the President left his HHS chief hanging.

“We’ll see,” Mr. Trump said.

The President’s comments came hours after the House Oversight Committee signaled that it was reviewing press reports about private charter jet trips taken by Price and other top officials in the Trump Administration.

“The Committee is examining the extent to which non-career officials at federal departments and agencies either use government-owned aircraft for personal travel or private non-commercial aircraft for official travel,” read a bipartisan letter sent to the White House Chief of Staff.

Signed by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the letter is the clearest signal yet that Congress is raising red flags about private charter travel, detailed in recent stories about HHS Secretary Tom Price, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Gowdy and Cummings – the top two members of the House Oversight Committee – asked for documents and information on such flights by October 10.

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.

“The travel department continues to check every possible source for travel needs including commercial, but commercial travel is not always feasible,” the statement read.

But those answers did not mollify the President, who was reported by some news organizations to be very unhappy with Price – and then showed it.

“I’m not happy about it,” the President said when asked about Price, though Mr. Trump has made his anger known about other top officials in his administration – like Attorney General Jeff Sessions – but not forced them out of a job.

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