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HHS Secretary Tom Price resigns before Trump makes decision on firing

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned Friday after heavy backlash for his use of private and military planes for travel. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned Friday afternoon, amid increasing outrage over his excessive use of private planes for work travel, funded by taxpayers.

President Donald Trump said earlier in the day that he would make a decision Friday about Price's future.

"He's a very fine person. I certainly don't like the optics," Trump said Friday. "I'm not happy, I can tell you that. I'm not happy."

But Price, 62, decided to step down on his own terms rather than wait for the president's decision.

"Secretary of Health and Human Services Thomas Price offered his resignation earlier today and the President accepted," press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Don Wright of Virginia will be appointed Acting Secretary. Wright currently serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health and Director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Growing scandal

The scrutiny of Price's travel habits began with a report detailing several charter flights taken during a a three-day period in September.

A more detailed report surfaced showed more than $400,000 worth of charter flights since May.

In what may have been the final straw, Politico reported Thursday that Price had used military planes for overseas travel at a cost of more than $500,000 of taxpayer money over the summer, bringing the total to over $1 million in just a five-month period.

A promise to change, too late

Price apologized for the flights Thursday, promised to pay back some of the money and said he would no longer fly private as HHS secretary going forward.

But the public relations damage had already been done, and Trump voiced his displeasure with a scandal that some in the administration believed was becoming an unneeded distraction.

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