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Martin Shkreli Invokes Attitude -- and the Fifth

Shkreli laughs during his appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Martin Shkreli giggled and smiled his way through his testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday 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.”  

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

Shkreli and other pharmaceutical companies are being 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-South Carolina, 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 their one album 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 at the hearing, Cummings noted Shkreli's first tweet since leaving the room.  

 

   

“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.

Shkreli's day on Capitol Hill ended awkwardly as he ran up to the wrong black SUV idling on the street.