Casualties Mount in Donald Trump’s First Eight Months

US Secretary of Health and Human Services Thomas Price
US Secretary of Health and Human Services Thomas Price

Traffic through the exit door of Donald Trump’s administration has been astonishingly high since he became president on January 20.

On Friday, President Donald Trump’s embattled health secretary was forced out of the US administration Friday, amid a scandal over his use of costly private jets for government travel, AFP reported.

“Secretary of Health and Human Services Thomas Price offered his resignation earlier today and the president accepted,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

The announcement came less than an hour after Trump told reporters that Price had not offered to resign, but that his fate would be decided later Friday.

The deputy assistant secretary for health, Don Wright, will be tapped to take over for Price on an interim basis, Sanders said.

For days Price had battled to keep a position he has held for less than eight months, after it emerged he had repeatedly used taxpayer funds to hire private jets.

In all, Price has flown on 26 separate trips this year on private aircraft, totaling some $400,000, according to Politico.

He tried to put a lid on the scandal by paying back what turned out to be a fraction of the cash spent.

The trips were for government business, Price’s department said, but some of the flights were to destinations where the health chief owns property, or where he met relatives.

Price had also been intimately involved in Trump’s failed efforts to overturn Obama-era health care reforms.

With that effort now stalled in Congress, Price’s replacement will have to decide whether to take measures to prop up the current system or let it fail.

Republicans say Obama’s reforms are unworkable. Democrats and independent experts say Republican plans would see millions or tens of millions of people lose insurance.

In his resignation letter Price said it was an “honor and privilege” to serve in Trump’s administration.

“I have spent forty years both as a doctor and public servant putting people first,” he wrote.

“I regret that the recent events have created a distraction from these important objectives.”

Trump had earlier indicated that Price’s job was hanging by a thread.

Price is the most senior ranking official to be forced out of the administration, although he’s far from the first.

He is the latest casualty of eight months of bedlam in the executive offices of the world’s most powerful country.

Here are the main Trump aides who have come and gone since January, before Americans ever really got to know them:

National Security Advisor Mike Flynn

Flynn lasted only 22 days, forced out on February 13 over top-level concerns that he could be compromised by false statements he made over his contacts with Russian officials.

FBI Director James Comey

Trump abruptly fired Comey in a brief letter on May 9, saying that Comey could not “effectively lead” the bureau any longer.

Trump repeatedly criticized Comey’s handling of the investigation into former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s personal email server, and Comey said after his firing that he felt uncomfortable by comments Trump made about the FBI’s investigation into Flynn.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer

He lasted 182 days. He left when Anthony Scaramucci was named White House communications director.

Chief of Staff Reince Priebus

A close ally of Spicer, Priebus took a hard fall when Trump named Scaramucci as the new communications director. Scaramucci publicly described Priebus as a “paranoid schizophrenic” and when Trump let that statement stand, rather than defend Priebus, he took the exit door after 189 days.

White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci

He mounted a vulgar attack on Priebus which sat poorly with the man Trump ultimately chose to be chief of staff, then Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. He ended up with the shortest tenure of anyone in the Trump White House: a paltry 10 days.

Chief Strategist Steve Bannon

The architect of Trump’s nationalist-populist political stances and his election victory, Bannon was called the Shadow President. But after Kelly arrived, his constant clashes with other Trump advisors became untenable, as did his ties to the extreme right, which drew accusations that Trump represented racists. Bannon lasted 210 days.

 US in Contact With N. Korea

Meanwhile, The United State said that it has open channels of communication with North Korea and is investigating whether the regime is ready to enter talks on giving up its nuclear weapons program, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Saturday.

Tillerson’s disclosure follows an escalating war of words between US President Donald Trump and North Korean strongman Kim Jong-Un.

“We are probing, so stay tuned,” he told reporters after talks with Chinese officials in Beijing. “We ask. We have lines of communication with Pyongyang. We’re not in a dark situation, a blackout, we have a couple, three channels open to Pyongyang.”

“We can talk to them, we do talk to them,” he said.

Asked whether China was acting as a go-between for the contacts, Tillerson said: “Our own channels.”

Tillerson spoke after an afternoon of talks with China’s top diplomats and President Xi Jinping centered on the nuclear crisis and preparations for Trump’s visit to Beijing in November.

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