President Donald Trump and his advisers are enraged over Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s use of expensive private jets, with some advisers privately calling for Price’s dismissal, Politico reports.
Trump scolded Price on Wednesday but declined to end speculation whether the HHS chief could be fired for his lavish spending of taxpayer dollars.
“We’ll see. I was looking into it, and I will look into it. And I will tell you personally, I’m not happy about it. 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.” Trump stressed.
Politico has 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.
White House officials said that the President was shocked by Price’s behavior, especially because he nurtured a reputation as a fiscal conservative during his time as a House lawmaker. However, administration officials said Trump’s anger at Price may not necessarily mean that he would be dismissed. Price is the latest Trump administration official to get on the president’s bad side, as National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are among those who have run afoul of the president.
HHS 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. “We’ve heard the criticism. We’ve heard the concerns. We take that very seriously and have taken it to heart.” Price told telling Fox News.