U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said, on Thursday, he believed he still had President Trump’s confidence, a day after the president said he was not happy with Price over reports he had used private planes for official travel.
“I think we’ve still got the confidence of the president,” Price told reporters who asked whether he expected to be fired over the matter.
“We’re going to work through this,” he said, following a public event in Washington about the flu season.
Price has taken at least two dozen private charter flights since May at a cost to taxpayers of about US$300,000, according to Politico, which first reported the travel. Trump said on Wednesday he was looking into the matter, as is a U.S. House of Representatives committee.
HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley said on Wednesday that Price has “heard the criticism and concerns” over his travel, adding, “he takes that very seriously and has taken it to heart.”
She added that Price has initiated an internal departmental review of travel procedures. The HHS inspector general has also announced a review of Price’s travel on chartered aircraft.
Two other senior U.S. officials also face scrutiny over their travels.
The Treasury Department’s Inspector General is reviewing the circumstances of Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s use of a government plane to fly to Kentucky in August for a visit to Louisville and Fort Knox. Mnuchin and his wife viewed the solar eclipse during the trip.
Mnuchin was asked Thursday on the “CBS This Morning” program if he would promise to ride commercial airlines for the rest of his tenure as Treasury secretary.
“I can promise the American taxpayer the only time that I will be using (military) air is when there are issues either for national security or where we have to get various different things (and) there’s no other means,” he said.
The frequent travels of Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, to Oklahoma are being investigated by that agency’s inspector general.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that Pruitt is said to have taken at least four non-commercial and military flights since mid-February, costing taxpayers more than US$58,000.