Former Georgia congressman resigns after chairwoman says decision imminent, having apologized and refunded some costs
The health and human services secretary, Tom Price, has resigned, after revelations that he spent more than $ 1m of taxpayers’ fund on traveling including chartered flights.
Reports about such travel by Price and other cabinet members- including the EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, interior secretary, Ryan Zinke and veterans affairs director, David Shulkin– had undermined Donald Trump’s promise to” drain the swamp” of corruption in Washington.
Price, already in a precarious situation with the president after repeated failures to repeal the Affordable Care Act, had come under fire for spending so much fund on private flights instead of commercial travelling. On Thursday, he apologized for taking the flights and offered to reimburse the treasury for the relevant costs.
In statement on Friday, the White House said Price offered his abdication and Trump accepted it. Trump had pestered the news, telling reporters an announcement was forthcoming.
Trump called Price a” very fine human” but said he did not like the “optics” of members of his cabinet- the wealthiest ever assembled- flying at great expenditure to taxpayers.
” I’m not happy, OK ?” Trump said, before departing Washington to spend the weekend at his New Jersey golf club.” I can tell you, I’m not happy .”
The statement said Trump intended to tap Don Wright to serve as acting secretary, starting at midnight on Friday. Wright is currently deputy deputy secretary for health and director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
In a transcript of his abdication letter posted to Twitter, Price thanked Trump for the” opportunity to serve the American people “.
” I have spent 40 years both as a doctor and public servant putting people first ,” he wrote.” I regret that the recent events have created a distraction from those important objectives .”