US & Canada

Trump 'not happy' with health secretary's private travel

US President Donald Trump speaks to the media prior to departing on Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The president did not rule out sacking Tom Price over his use of private planes on the federal dime

US President Donald Trump has said he is "not happy" with US Health Secretary Tom Price over his private plane travel on official government business.

Mr Trump said he was "looking into it" after reports emerged that Mr Price had taken 24 flights on private planes for official trips since May.

Internal and congressional inquiries have opened into the matter.

Two other members of Mr Trump's cabinet are also under scrutiny for their use of private planes while on the job.

Government officials, with the exception of those dealing directly with national security matters, are required to take commercial flights for work-related travel.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The former Georgia congressman has been tasked by Trump with overhauling the US healthcare system

"I am not happy with him," Mr Trump told reporters of Mr Price at the White House before departing for Indianapolis, Indiana, on Wednesday.

When asked if he would fire the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary over the matter, the Republican president said: "We'll see."

Mr Price's trips have included flying from Washington DC to Nashville for the afternoon, where he spent less than 90 minutes at two scheduled events and had lunch with his son, who lives in the Tennessee city.

The Learjet round-trip cost nearly $18,000 of taxpayers' money, according to an investigation by Politico.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released a letter on Wednesday asking Mr Price about his use of "government-owned aircraft for personal travel or private non-commercial aircraft for official travel".

The committee has given Mr Price two weeks to hand over the records.

He has said he will halt private plane travel on official business while the internal review is being conducted.

Tesia D Williams, a spokeswoman for the HHS inspector general, told the BBC the agency is reviewing whether it was "potentially inappropriate travel".

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 US government jet to view the solar eclipse with his wife last month.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt has attracted the attention of his agency's inspector general after spending more than $58,000 on non-commercial travel.