Georgia Republican Congressman Tom Price - nominated to serve as President Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services - is the latest victim of “fake news,” now forced to play defense against a misleading report from CNN. The good news is, his defense is strong, the CNN report is clearly false, and - most encouraging of all - Team Trump has apparently decided to make an example of this case with a strong and aggressive pushback.
Last Monday, CNN’s Manu Raju reported that Price purchased stock in a medical device manufacturer days before introducing legislation that would have delayed the imposition of regulations that would have affected the company.
Said the report, “Price bought between $1,001 to $15,000 worth of shares last March in Zimmer Biomet, according to House records reviewed by CNN. Less than a week after the transaction, the Georgia Republican congressman introduced the HIP Act, legislation that would have delayed until 2018 a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regulation that industry analysts warned would significantly hurt Zimmer Biomet financially once fully implemented.”
That’s a great piece of writing. Congressman buys stock, then introduces legislation to help the company whose stock he just bought. Bad congressman!
Except … the CNN report left out the fact that Congressman Price did not make the decision to purchase the stock. His broker did.
Congressman Price did not know about his broker’s decision to purchase the stock on March 17, 2016 until after Price had introduced his legislation on March 23. His broker informed him on April 4 of the March trade, and Price disclosed that in a filing on April 15, 11 days later, exactly as he was required to do.
Nor, contrary to CNN’s implication, did Congressman Price wait to take up the issue until after he had purchased the stock. He’s been working on it since at least September 21, 2015, when he sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to his fellow Members of Congress regarding the proposed CMS regulation.
(And, just for the record, the stock purchase was just above the “trivial” level - 26 shares, valued at $2,697.74. CNN would have us believe a Congressman would risk his reputation, and possibly his career, over legislative action that, even if it had doubled the value of the company’s stock, would have netted him about three grand? Really?)
So … CNN’s timeline is wrong. Price began working on the issue in September 2015, and his broker made the trade - which Price did not know about, let alone authorize - six months later, in March 2016.
So much for that CNN “story.”
What’s most encouraging about the episode, though, is that Team Trump is not rolling over. Politico reported that Trump’s transition team “is formally asking CNN to retract an article about Rep. Tom Price.” Said the transition team statement, the CNN story “omitted facts and drew conclusions in an effort to attack” Price, and then went on to lay out facts that “were available to CNN.”
“The Presidential Transition Team requests that CNN retract this blatantly false story,” concludes the statement.
Clearly, Team Trump understands what’s really at stake here - repealing ObamaCare.
Congressman Price is a doctor. He’s been fighting ObamaCare since its inception. He’s authored a replacement plan. And, when he’s confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services, he’ll be the Trump Administration’s leading voice on how to repeal and replace ObamaCare.
That is why Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has targeted Price’s confirmation for defeat. And that is why CNN is “reporting” misleading “stories” about Congressman Price now.
The mainstream media attacked Donald Trump repeatedly during the course of his 17-month campaign for the presidency. Now that he’s won, he’s finding out that his nominees are subject to the same sort of baseless attacks. He fought back during the course of the campaign, and he’s clearly instructed his team to fight back on behalf of his nominees.
That’s encouraging, because the battle to repeal and replace ObamaCare - the most important unifying policy point in the GOP/conservative sphere for the last seven years - is only now just beginning.