Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) grilled and flustered Doctor Ben Carson Wednesday at his confirmation hearing for secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
He was so thrown off by her questioning, he made an embarrassing gaffe and declared he would not “do anything to benefit any American.”
Warren pointed out that President-elect Donald Trump will be in a unique position to benefit from HUD contracts because of his real estate business. Trump announced earlier that his sons will be running his business, and he will not be putting his assets in a blind trust as other presidents have previously done.
Warren asked Carson, “Can you assure me that not a single taxpayer dollar you give out will financially benefit the president-elect or his family?”
Carson said he wouldn’t “play favorites,” and said “I can assure you that the things that I do are driven by a sense of morals and values.”
Warren continued to pressure Carson: “It’s not about your good faith. My concern is whether or not, among the billions of dollars you will be responsible for handing out in grants and loans, can you just assure us that not $1 will go to benefit either the president-elect or his family?”
Carson replied, “It will not be my intention to do anything to benefit any American,” Carson said. “It’s for all Americans.”
Warren responded: “Do I take that to mean you may manage programs that will significantly benefit the president-elect?”
“You can take it to mean that I will manage things in a way that benefits the American people,” Carson answered.
Carson then argued that he wouldn’t prevent a company associated with Trump from working with HUD if low-income Americans might benefit from it, “If there happens to be an extraordinary program that’s working for millions of people, and it turns out that someone that you’re targeting is going to gain $10 from it, am I going to say, ‘No, the rest of you Americans can’t have it?’” he said. “I think logic and common sense probably would be the best way.”
Warren shot back, “The problem is that you can’t assure us that HUD money — not of $10 varieties but of multimillion-dollar varieties — will not end up in the president-elect’s pockets.”
Warren went on:
“And the reason you can’t assure us of that is because the president- elect is hiding his family’s business interests from you, from me, from the rest of America,” the senator said. “And this just highlights the absurdity and the danger of the president-elect’s refusal to put his assets in a true blind trust.
“He knows what will benefit him and his family financially but the public doesn’t.”