Chapter 3, Part 2: Facing the "Imbeciles"
Did lawmakers want answers when they made Martin Shkreli appear at a hearing on drug prices in 2016? Or did they want a show?
“Is it pronounced ‘Shkrel-EE?’”
Congressman Trey Gowdy’s voice was kind, even avuncular, as he addressed Martin, who was seated before him at the House Oversight Committee room nominally to testify about drug pricing on Feb. 4, 2016.
“Yes, sir,” Martin replied.
Gowdy pounced. “See, you can answer some questions,” the silver-haired Republican from South Carolina said. “That one didn’t incriminate you.”
Less than two months after Martin had been arrested (in highly visible fashion) on securities fraud charges — launching a wave of schadenfreude that rippled across the internet — the committee had called him to testify based on the scandal for which he was and is best known: raising the price of Daraprim, a toxoplasmosis treatment, by 5,000 percent.
His lawyers had strenuously advised him against speaking under oath because of possible complications for the ongoing criminal case. The committee was told he would likely invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege to avoid answering questions. But the lawmakers subpoenaed him anyway.