President Donald Trump said that Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s use of private jets for official business travel is “different” than what’s been done by other members of his cabinet.
Speaking to reporters Sunday, Trump acknowledged the department’s inspector general’s probe into Price’s use of charter jets, which could have reportedly cost taxpayers at least $300,000 since May.
When asked about Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s use of a private jet to fly from New York to Washington, D.C. in August, Trump said he “didn’t think” Mnuchin did that, despite reports investigators are looking into the flight that cost taxpayers $25,000.
“Why don’t you check your records before you make a statement. As I understood it – I don’t know much about it – I haven’t heard about it, but I understand he never took that flight,” he said, according to the White House pool report. “As far as Secretary Price is concerned, that’s different. We’re looking into it.”
On Monday afternoon, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders firmed up Trump’s comments, saying Price’s use of private jets “wasn’t White House approved travel” and that all use of private charters has been suspended until the probe is complete.
The HHS inspector general announced Friday it was requesting documents related to Price’s travel and his staff’s justifications for picking private charter options over commercial flights.
Politico reported last week that Price had taken at least five private charter flights to conduct official business up and down the East Coast this month. These reports prompted five Democratic congressional leaders to write Levinson, requesting an investigation into the matter.