WASHINGTON — President Trump accepted Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price's resignation on Friday, the White House said, ending days of presidential criticism over Price's use of private airplanes.
Price "offered his resignation earlier today and the President accepted," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a brief statement.
Sanders said Trump will designate Don Wright, the deputy assistant secretary for Health and Director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, as acting HHS secretary. He's a holdover from the Obama administration.
In his resignation letter, Price told Trump that he regrets how "recent events have created a distraction" from the president's agenda, including unsuccessful efforts to repeal and replace President Barack Obama's health care law.
The announcement came less than two hours after Trump called Price a "very fine man," but once again expressed his irritation about how Price racked up roughly $1 million in flight costs on private and military aircraft since taking office in February.
"I certainly don't like the optics," Trump told reporters as he headed for the presidential helicopter Marine One, en route to a weekend stay at his golf club in New Jersey. "I'm not happy, I can tell you that. I'm not happy."
Later, before boarding Air Force One, Trump was asked if Price offered to resign, and responded: "No, but we'll see what happens later on."