Trump on firing Price for taxpayer-funded private jet use: 'We'll see'

Andrew Harnik  AP

At one point, when asked if he would fire Price, the President said, "We'll see". The panel wrote to the White House and 24 federal agencies requesting information about senior officials' aircraft use.

The inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that it was investigating Price's travel.

If ObamaCare repeal is dead for now, despite Trump's protests to the contrary, this would be a fine time for him to shed himself of Price's embarrassing private-jet shenanigans.

Another White House official said the repeated reports of private jet use by Price were "not good optics", but said the President was focused on the Alabama Senate race and his tax speech Wednesday and had not talked extensively to aides about Price.

Federal regulations stipulate that "official travel on the part of federal employees must be "by the most expeditious means of transportation practicable" and 'commensurate with the nature and goal of the [employee's] duties, ' and by no means should include personal use", according to the letter.

The news outlet found that since at least May, Price had racked up more than $400,000 in costs for 26 private flights, a total that includes $56,500 for trips just last week, all at the expense of taxpayers.

President Donald Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he is also "looking into" the situation with Price.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin - a former Goldman Sachs banker - is also under investigation by his agency's inspector general for potentially improper use of a USA government jet to view the solar eclipse with his wife last month. Sebelius said in an interview with Bloomberg that when she served as secretary HHS officials were required to fly economy for all trips that were shorter than 12 hours.

A spokeswoman, Charmaine Yoest, said Price had once been delayed on a commercial flight and was forced to cancel a public event.

Price's office said the secretary's demanding schedule sometimes does not permit the use of commercial airline flights.

A small number of Cabinet members, military officials and law enforcement officials are allowed to travel on government planes for national security reasons.

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