Martin Shkreli punked out.
The pharma bad boy Shkreli, as promised, refused to testify Thursday before a congressional committee investigating drug price hikes.
Appearing under subpoena, he cited his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination over and over again as members sought to ask the normally verbose 32-year-old former CEO about his company's dramatic increase of the price of its medication by more than 5,500 percent.
Shkreli, who faces pending criminal securities fraud charges, smirked, twiddled a pencil and looked away as Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said, "I want to plead with you to use any remaining influence you have with your former company," Turing Pharmaceuticals, "to lower the price" of Daraprim. The company raised the price last year to $750 per pill from just $13.50.
"I know you're smiling, but I'm very serious, sir," Cummings said. "You could go down in history as the poster boy for greedy pharmaceutical executives, or you could change the system. ... I truly believe you can be a tremendous force for good."
Soon after Shkreli was excused from the hearing because of his refusal to answer questions, Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., fumed: "I don't think I've ever seen the committee treated with such contempt." He asked committee chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz if he would hold Shkreli in contempt of Congress. Chaffetz, R-Utah, indicated he would not do that.
Shkreli's criminal defense lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, told reporters that "Mr. Shkreli did not intend to show any disrespect." Brafman said his client's fidgeting and facial mugging "was nervous energy."
Speaking with CNBC's "Closing Bell" Thursday afternoon, Brafman said he didn't think his client violated the law. "I think he's done nothing wrong, and I think he needs guidance, and I think he needs counsel," he said.
Brafman, who earlier called the hearing "a hostile forum," said Shkreli is "a brilliant scientist" dedicated to saving lives.
"Mr. Shkreli is not a villain, he's not a bad boy, at the end of the story, he's a hero," said Brafman, whose client was only allowed by a federal judge to travel outside of New York for the purpose of attending the congressional hearing.
But after the hearing, Shkreli tweeted: "Hard to accept that these imbeciles represent the people in our government." He then kept up a steady pace of retweeting messages supporting him.
In an email statement several hours later, Brafman wrote, "Although Mr. Shkreli followed my advice about making no statements at the hearing, it was very frustrating for him to listen to what he believed to be patently false statements about Turing that he could not respond to because of the pending criminal charges. He meant no disrespect but in truth, statements made by some of the members of the committee were wrong, unfair and difficult to listen to without responding."
"He's young, he's inexperienced, he's never been in this position before and it's a regrettable choice of words," Brafman said to CNBC about his client's tweet.
"It's sort of a childlike behavior. We gave him every opportunity to cite his side of the story; he chose not to do that," Chaffetz told CNBC's "Power Lunch." "That's disappointing, but you would expect more from a human being."
Chaffetz also responded to Brafman's portraying Shkreli as a hero during the interview on Thursday. "If he pays his bills, I'm sure he would call him a hero because I'm sure it's not cheap," he chuckled.