Tom Price's taxpayer-funded private-jet travels mixed business with pleasure

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. "I'm not happy about it, and I will let him know it".

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

In a letter addressed to Price, both the committee's top Republican, Rep. Trey Gowdy, and Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings, said they were "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".

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.

The House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee opened an investigation on Wednesday into travel by top officials. On a June trip to Nashville, Price also had lunch with his son, who lives in that city, according to Politico.

The committee is looking at all Cabinet member travel, not just Price's.

Such flights are typically not allowed if there are cheaper commercial options, which Politico said there were for Price's flights.

As the Wall Street Journal reported, during that time Price also invested more than $300,000 in health-care and pharmaceutical companies whose stock price could have been affected by his actions.

"I'm not going to comment on that because the President hasn't commented publicly", Kellyanne Conway, a senior White House adviser, told reporters.

The HHS Office of Inspector General is investigating whether Price's travel fell within federal travel regulations, and this week the House of Representatives launched its own probe. 5 big ideas to halt America's opioid epidemic Aligning clinical and community resources improves health MORE said Tuesday that her successor's use of private chartered flights is "stunning".

Trump's remarks were the latest example of the White House distancing itself from Price's actions.

  • Joey Payne