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Trump taps former campaign rival Carson as housing secretary

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Former Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson during Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s Aug. 25 roundtable meeting with the Republican Leadership Initiative in his offices at Trump Tower in New York.

WASHINGTON » President-elect Donald Trump, moving to complete formation of his Cabinet and decide other key posts, chose former campaign rival Ben Carson today to be secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Trump’s decision, announced by his transition office, comes as the real estate mogul continues a series of interviews, meetings with aides and other deliberations aimed at forming his administration. He announced several Cabinet appointees last week.

In a statement, Trump said he was “thrilled to nominate” Carson, describing the retired neurosurgeon as having “a brilliant mind” and saying he “is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities.”

Carson had been coy about joining the new administration, saying shortly after Trump’s election victory that he wasn’t certain he’d fit into a Cabinet-style role. The discussion at that time centered on speculation that Carson might be selected to head the sprawling Department of Health and Human Services.

“Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country,” Trump said, “and is part of ensuring that this is a presidency representing all Americans.”

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said Carson had no credentials for the job and was a “disconcerting and disturbingly unqualified choice.” She said the country deserves someone with “relevant experience to protect the rights of homeowners and renters.”

Carson was among the 16 Republican candidates who challenged Trump for the Republican nomination. He was a favorite of religious conservatives and a strong fundraiser, but his team burned through money quickly and he failed to win any of the early primary contests.

Trump treated Carson harshly during the primary, saying he had a “pathological temper.” Still, Carson quickly endorsed Trump after he dropped out of the contest.

As a Trump supporter, Carson was both loyal and critical. He conceded that Trump had “major defects” and said at one point that he would have preferred a scenario other than Trump winning the Republican primary.

Last week, Trump announced that he planned to nominate former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin as his Treasury secretary and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross to lead the Commerce Department. He chose Betsy DeVos to be secretary of education and Elaine Chao, the wife of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, to be transportation secretary. Trump also has turned to retired Marine Gen. James Mattis to be secretary of defense.

He now has expanded his pool of candidates for secretary of state, raising a question about whether former CIA Director David Petraeus’ guilty plea for leaking classified information disqualifies him to serve as the nation’s top diplomat.

Trump’s aides had confirmed that the president-elect had settled on four finalists for the post. But over the weekend, two people close to the transition told The Associated Press that Trump is moving away from two of the four: former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee.

That would leave Petraeus as a top contender, along with Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Both people close to the transition said Trump’s prolonged decision-making process has left the door open to other options. Among other possibilities, one official says is Jon Huntsman, a former Republican Utah governor who also served as the ambassador to China and speaks Mandarin.

The people close to the transition spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the private process publicly.

Carson has often recounted his childhood as the son of a single mother in inner-city Detroit in his books and motivational speeches. In his 1996 autobiography “Gifted Hands,” Carson wrote of the humiliation he felt using food stamps from his mom to pay for bread and milk, and said how he began to excel at school only after receiving a free pair of glasses that allowed him to see the lessons written on chalk boards.

Carson has not said whether his family ever lived in federally funded housing or received Section 8 subsidies to help pay rent. But as a political figure he has criticized such public assistance programs for creating “dependency” on the government among low-income minorities.

With the help of financial aid and scholarships, Carson attended Yale University and the University of Michigan Medical School before being the first African-American named as the head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore. There he garnered national acclaim for directing the first surgery to separate twins connected at the back of the head.

Carson’s rise to political prominence began with a 2013 speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, where he gave a withering critique of the modern welfare state and the nation’s overall direction while President Barack Obama was seated just feet away. During the 2016 Republican presidential primary, Carson’s inspirational life story, Christian faith and anti-establishment message briefly catapulted him last year ahead of Trump and other rivals in opinion polls.

But his success on the campaign trail quickly crumbled amid questions about whether elements of his rags-to-riches autobiography were exaggerated or fabricated — including a purported childhood fit of rage in which he tried to stab his best friend in the belly only to be foiled by a belt buckle. Carson’s business dealings also faced scrutiny, including his ties to a wealthy Pittsburgh dentist whom he helped avoid prison time for felony health care fraud.

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    • Since it’s recently been announced that it will be closed for another two years for renovation work, perhaps Carson could persuade Trump to re-purpose the Washington Monument for grain storage.

      • Pelosi helped usher in one of the biggest lib smack downs and how does she respond?
        “I don’t think people want a new direction,” Pelosi told CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “Our values unify us and our values are about supporting America’s working families.”
        What ?? “…our values are about supporting America’s working families.”
        No it isn’t. It’s about dictating restroom usage. It’s about keeping everything PC. It’s about looking around and designating “victims” …Gays,lesbians,trans,minorities,women,illegals, and even terrorists. (Remember when Marie Harf said all the terrorists need are job opportunities.) And how does accepting 1800 illegals rejected by Australia help America’s working families?
        Pelosi is so out of touch and those that helped re-elect her as House Minority leader are just as out of touch.

    • You probably think it’s okay for HUD to subsidize illegal immigrants with US taxpayer money. And no doubt you love ACORN, one of the poster organizations for fraud. Obama made so many mistakes, how can Trump possibly do worse…?

    • Again another unqualified assessment from none other than allie who comments on just about everything under the sun. The fact is Carson grew up in public housing and despite his humble beginnings became an accomplished doctor so it would not be an “odd choice.”

    • Odd Choice? Not qualified for the job? You are, of course, referring to Obama when he was elected President of the United States. Voters make many mistakes.

    • So Allie, clearly you said the same thing when Barrack was on his path to the Presidency, right? I mean the guy had absolutely no experience with anything other than community organizing, and even that’s been brought into question. Your comments about Carson clearly demonstrate your myopic focus on bashing Trump. Weak Allie. Really weak.

      • 12 years in elective office is not “no experience.” He was also a professor of Constitutional law at a prestigious law school. Trump, on the other hand, appears unfamiliar with the Constitution and has arranged for tutoring by Paul Ryan.

        • Look down at your feet, they’re flashing! That’s your bs meter alerting you to your comments.

        • You need to have your 4th grade teacher let you know what the word racist means. You still haven’t learned that.

        • K K K klastri..you are…prime example.
          When someone disagrees with you you call them liars, racists, you don’t know what you’re talking about etc etc.
          You need to take a Anger Management 101 class.
          God help you.

        • Keonigohan – I stated a fact. You don’t know what the word racist means, or you deliberately misuse it.

          I don’t need help from your imaginary friend. I can make up my own fairy tales if needed.

        • K K K klastri…how many guests did you have at your GO hiLIARy party on election night?

  • It just “Cracks” me up to Hear Nancy Pelosi say that Ben Carson is not qualified to be HUD’s chief. But he was Qualified to run for the US Presidency?SMH. C’mon Nancy!
    For someone ,who at the time, hasn’t read (In it’s entirty) the ACA and yet endorses it,and tells everybody. ” The Key Word is: Affordable,affordable,affordable affordable….affordable,……….affordable”. Or “We have to pass this Bill to know what’s inside the Bill”. Then we find out that the ACA was a Money Draining..”Train Wreck”! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! I’m telling you, she is not going to live this one down! This will go with her to the _____________(fill-in the Blank).

    At this point,she is not credible to tell us what is real and what is not!
    Really Folks? For people to take Nancy Pelosi seriously? That Train has left the Station.
    Yes, Ben Carson has many attributes to Qualify him to be the Head of HUD. He’s a Business person, a Brain Surgeon and My Favorite? Like President Trump……. He is Not an “All Talk and No Action” “Career Politician” like Sweet Nancy Pelosi! IMUA

  • So Trump, who got his start in real estate by refusing to rent to minorities and who picked as Treasury Secretary a banker accused of red-lining and other discriminatory lending practices, has nominated for Secretary of HUD a man who has stated that enforcement of the Fair Housing Act is a “mandated social engineering scheme” similar to what happens in communist countries. It’s no wonder that the KKK is staging Trump victory parades.

  • Here’s how crazy the Trump transition team is.

    National Security Advisor Gen. Michael Flynn’s son (who is chief-of-staff at the general’s consulting firm, is one of his father’s advisors, and is also on the Trump transition team), has tweeted that the man armed with an assault rifle who fired shots at a DC pizza restaurant was a “false flag” actor who was trying to discredit the “investigation” of the child-sex ring that Clinton is running out of the basement of the pizza restaurant.

    Trump is highly susceptible to conspiracy theories. Allowing someone as crazy as Gen. Flynn’s son (and perhaps Gen Flynn himself) anywhere near Trump is a dangerous situation.

  • So…..Nancy came from San Francisco ….where the Dems give 250 Million dollars a year to help Homeless Inc……..it doesn’t trickle down but gets stuck at the six figure salary admins……God help us all………

    we need more people of color in Big Government…..honest people with a soul and Ethics…….both Dems and Reps and everything in between.

  • Great choice. Brilliant man. Carson will be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The key part of his title is the second part – urban development. I believe that is where the Trump administration will focus its efforts. Our inner cities are in shambles. Detroit looks like it just got hit with an atomic bomb. Unemployment, drug abuse, crime, failing schools and broken families are par. Redevelopment of urban areas is needed to improve the lives of millions of people who live there and it will happen under Trump and Carson.

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