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Martin Shkreli invokes Fifth Amendment, angers lawmakers

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Pharmaceutical chief Martin Shkreli speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington today during the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on his former company’s decision to raise the price of a lifesaving medicine. Shkreli refused to testify before U.S. lawmakers who excoriated him over severe hikes for a drug sold by a company that he acquired.

WASHINGTON » Martin Shkreli giggled and smiled his way through his testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today and at times seemed distracted. And members of the committee called him out on it.

Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, asked Shkreli, “Do you think you’ve done anything wrong?” Shkreli giggled.

He also laughed at ranking member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., when he told him, “You have a spotlight and you have a platform, you can use that to come clean, to right your wrong, and to become one of the most effective patient advocates in the country.”

Cummings paused and said, “I know you’re smiling, but I’m very serious, sir.”

Shkreli and other pharmaceutical companies are being investigated for raising drug prices. Shkreli’s Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price of the life-saving drug Daraprim to $750 a tablet from $13.50.

Besides invoking his Fifth Amendment right, Shkreli answered only two questions. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., asked him, “Is it pronounced Shkreli?” The witness responded “yes.”

Cummings at one point asked a distracted-looking Shkreli if we was listening. Shkreli again responded “yes.”

During Gowdy’s questioning, the congressman said, “He doesn’t have to be prodded to tweet a whole lot or show us his life on that little webcam he’s got.”

In the weeks leading up to this hearing, Shkreli tweeted about receiving his subpoena and mocked those who issued it.

He also tweeted at Cummings, “House busy whining to healthcare reporters about me appearing for their chit chat next week. Haven’t decided yet. Should I?” and “Your attempt to subvert my constitutional right to the 5th amendment are disgusting & insulting to all Americans.”

Shkreli records himself on a live stream in his apartment, talking about various topics such as dating websites and the Wu-Tang Clan, whose one copy of one of their albums Shkreli purchased for $2 million.

Gowdy told Shkreli that he’s welcome to wave the Fifth Amendment and answer some questions. “I intend to follow the advice of my counsel, not yours,” Shkreli said.

On Wednesday, Shkreli’s high-profile lawyer, Ben Brafman, told USA Today that he would not allow the 32-year-old to make any more statements. Brafman stood up during the hearing and asked to speak. “Under the House rules, you have not been sworn in,” Chaffetz said, telling him to sit down.

Once Chaffetz excused Shkreli from the hearing, the former CEO and Brafman met in the hallway outside the Rayburn hearing room to consult before answering questions from reporters.

“I think everyone will recognize that Mr. Shkreli is not a villain,” Brafman told reporters. “At the end of this story, he is a hero.”

Shkreli, glaring at the group, did not speak.

But back in the hearing room, his latest tweet was noted.

Hard to accept that these imbeciles represent the people in our government. — Martin Shkreli (MartinShkreli) February 4, 2016

“His lawyer better advise him a little better,” Rep. John Duncan, R-Tenn., said.

The other witnesses remained in the room after Shkreli and Brafman left, including Turing’s chief operating officer, Nancy Retzlaff.

In her earlier opening statement, Retzlaff said, “I believe the decisions made by the company have been appropriate.”

In December, Shkreli was arrested on federal securities fraud charges and freed on a $5 million bond.

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©2016 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved

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  • A thirty two year old reacting like a “terrible two toddler” among the gentlemen at Washington DC? Never thought I’d see this day! A good old fashion spanking should keep him in line.

    • He’s a Kardashian wannabe, broadcasting from his apt 24 hours a day. He’s had more than his 15 minutes of SHAME. But then again, he seems to operate from the paradigm that SHAME and FAME are one and the SAME if it gets you in the spotlight and make you rich.

  • Why is everyone getting mad at this guy? He is a product of our business paradigm. He represents all of the entitled generation of kids that have grown up believing, at the prodding of their own parents by the way, that there is no wrong that they can do. Take a look at the million dollar condos going up around town? People like him have the money to buy those units. We have people that just graduated and joined the work force making six digits to start but without enough years behind them to be wise. They are smart no doubt about that, and they will inherit and lead our country. We made them tough, quick, and adaptable. They won’t be there to take care of their parents, or the generation that preceded them. They do not care one iota about the future, confident they will have the money and power to shrug off any problem that old age might bring. Take a good, long, hard look at that face. THAT IS THE FACE OF AMERICA.

  • No one takes these congressional committees seriously Why? They don’t do a thing. That being said, somebody with HIV and nothing to live for will take care of this guy one of these days.

    • Interesting, read a book, Dying to Win, study on suicides used by terrorists.. Pape mentions this as a justification. Some of the early suicide bombers were people who were dying from illnesses contracted through there life styles. Lost their way, found the “right way” by their actions.

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