U.S. President Donald Trump’s health secretary resigned Friday, after his costly travel triggered investigations that overshadowed the administration’s agenda and angered his boss. Tom Price’s regrets and partial repayment couldn’t save his job.
The Health and Human Services secretary became the first member of the president’s Cabinet to be pushed out in a turbulent young administration that has seen several high-ranking White House aides ousted. A former GOP congressman from the Atlanta suburbs, Mr. Price served less than eight months.
Mr. Trump has dismissed and accepted the resignations of a growing list of administration officials.
Mr. Trump said before the news broke that he was disappointed with Mr. Price for reportedly taking numerous, expensive charter flights, when cheaper commercial options were available. But he also offered compliments.
“He’s a very, very fine man,” Mr. Trump repeated as he departed the White House en route to his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.
“I felt very badly because Secretary Price is a good man,” Mr. Trump said, adding later – “I think it’s a shame because as a human being, Tom Price is very good man.”
It’s not the first time Mr. Trump has offered praise just before or after showing someone the door.
As Mr. Trump was preparing to part ways with his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, he was asked about Mr. Bannon’s fate at a news conference in New York.
“l like Mr. Bannon. He’s a friend of mine,” said Mr. Trump, before trying to distance himself from his former general election CEO by pointing out that he’d won the primaries before Mr. Bannon came on board.
“I like him. He’s a good man. He is not a racist, I can tell you that,” Mr. Trump said, adding – “He’s a good person and I think the press treats him, frankly, very unfairly.”
Days later, Mr. Bannon was out.
It was a similar case for Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus. Mr. Trump announced he was replacing Mr. Priebus via tweet from aboard Air Force One last July. Not long after, Mr. Trump spoke with reporters on a rainy tarmac, where he repeated his “good man” kiss of death.
“Reince is a good man. John Kelly will do a fantastic job. Gen. Kelly has been a star, done an incredible job thus far. Respected by everybody. A great, great American.”
As for Mr. Priebus? “Reince Priebus, a good man,” Mr. Trump repeated.
Mr. Trump also had kind words for his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, whose dismissal he has seemed to most regret.
The day after Mr. Flynn’s forced resignation, Mr. Trump called Mr. Flynn “a wonderful man” at a White House news conference and again blamed the news media for treating him “very, very unfairly.”
“This man has served for many years,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with NBC News. “He’s a general, he’s a in my opinion a very good person.”