Lawmakers push for ethics investigation into Trump's HHS pick

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer led Thursday's press conference
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer led Thursday's press conference

A group of Senate leaders are calling for an investigation into Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), President-elect Donald Trump's nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, citing reports that he traded health-related stocks while serving in the House of Representatives.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), joined by Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), held a press conference on Thursday urging the House Office of Congressional Ethics to look into Price's investments prior to his confirmation hearings.

This follows a Wall Street Journal report published late last month that claimed the orthopedic surgeon and lawmaker advocated for legislation that impacted the share prices of companies where he bought and sold stock. The report found that Price traded more than $300,000 in shares of healthcare companies through his past four years as a Congressman.

"There's enough evidence here that cries out for an investigation,” Schumer said. “Whether the law was actually broken, whether there was quid pro quos or inside information is the better way to put it — we don't know."

Schumer and other senators are calling on the ethics panel to investigate Price ahead of his confirmation hearings with the Senate Finance and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committees. The HELP hearing is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 18; no date has been set for the Finance hearing.

"The questions are serious enough that …  members — Republicans and Democrats — are confident that if this nomination moves forward, they're voting for someone that they clearly have the information on that we do not have today," Murray said.

Phil Blando, a spokesman for Trump's transition team, told CNN the senators' press conference was hypocritical and that the same investigation could be launched into Democrat lawmakers who “own and have traded hundreds of thousands of dollars” in healthcare-related stocks.

“The reality is that Dr. Price's 20-year career as an orthopedic surgeon and a fiscal conservative make him uniquely qualified to lead HHS,” Blando said.