Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said Thursday that he would reimburse the government for the costs of his flights on charter planes in recent months, after coming under sharp criticism from members of both parties for the expensive practice.
‘‘Today, I will write a personal check to the US Treasury for the expenses of my travel on private charter planes. The taxpayers won’t pay a dime for my seat on those planes,’’ Price said in a statement, adding that he would no longer take private planes while serving as secretary. ‘‘No exceptions.’’
An HHS official said Price would write a check for $51,887.31, which appears to cover the cost of his seat on chartered flights but not those of his staff. Politico, which first broke the story of Price’s repeated use of chartered jets, has estimated that the total cost of these trips exceeded $400,000.
Although Price said his travels had been approved by legal and HHS officials, he said he regretted ‘‘the concerns this has raised regarding the use of taxpayer dollars.’’
Price said he would continue to cooperate fully with the HHS inspector general’s office; the department watchdog is reviewing the flights. He also said he has initiated a departmental review to determine if any changes or reforms are necessary.
On Wednesday, President Trump said he was ‘‘not happy’’ about the revelations about the secretary’s travel. Responding to questions from reporters at the White House, Trump said he was ‘‘looking into’’ the situation and that ‘‘personally, I’m not happy about it, and I let him know it.’’
Trump later was asked whether he would fire Price. ‘‘We’ll see,’’ he responded.
Economic adviser ‘can’t
guarantee’ tax plan’s effects
WASHINGTON — President Trump’s economic adviser pushed back Thursday against the suggestion that the administration’s tax plan could benefit the wealthy, but said he couldn’t guarantee that taxes won’t go up for some middle-class families.
‘‘I can’t guarantee anything,’’ Cohn told ‘‘Good Morning America’’ on ABC. ‘‘You can always find a unique family somewhere.’’
‘‘There’s an exception to every rule,’’ he added.
But he said the tax plan was ‘‘purely aimed’’ at benefiting middle-class families. Cohn said a hypothetical family of four should have ‘‘a substantial tax decrease,’’ in the range of $650 to $1,000.
Pressed on whether Trump himself could see a tax cut under the plan, Cohn said the administration was ‘‘very confident that Americans are getting a great deal here.’’ He added: ‘‘We have also said wealthy Americans are not getting a tax cut.’’
At a White House briefing later in the day, Cohn said he was sticking around in the Trump administration for the ‘‘once-in-a-lifetime’’ opportunity to help rewrite the nation’s tax laws, adding that he would ‘‘never miss this.’’
Cohn had sharply denounced Trump’s response to the racial violence in Charlottesville, Va., last month. Cohn, who is Jewish, was so upset that he considered resigning, according to news reports.
Trump settled on Kim’s nickname after ‘dotard’ insult
President Trump shared his insights on Kim Jong Un, terrorists in Afghanistan, and the Navy’s plan to upgrade its catapult system on aircraft carriers in private remarks Tuesday night to a group of donors.
Over lengthy remarks, the president recalled how he came to reverse course on deploying troops to Afghanistan, calling that country ‘‘the Wharton school of finance for terrorists,’’ referring to his alma matter. Trump also praised his own handling of the North Korea nuclear crisis, touted his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and explained how he came up with his latest nickname for Kim Jong Un.
Although Trump called Kim ‘‘Rocket Man’’ in his first address to the United Nations, he thought it was not an insult and could even be seen as a compliment, Trump said at the dinner, according to attendees.
But after Kim issued a statement calling Trump a ‘‘dotard,’’ Trump upped the ante.
‘‘So I said, all right, so now I’ll call him Little Rocket Man,’’ Trump said.
Attendees passed along remarks Trump made on various foreign policy issues around the world.
According to Politico, tickets to the dinner sold for between $35,000 and $250,000 a couple.