Carson: ‘I Will Absolutely Not Play Favorites for Anyone’

By Melanie Arter | January 12, 2017 | 11:53am EST
Dr. Ben Carson, nominee for HUD secretary (AP Photo)

( – When asked whether he could assure Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) that “not a single dollar” of taxpayer funds will financially benefit President-elect Donald Trump or his family, HUD secretary nominee Dr. Ben Carson said Thursday that he would “absolutely not play favorites for anyone.”

“I can assure you that the things that I do are driven by a sense of morals and values, and therefore, I will absolutely not play favorites for anyone,” Carson said in response to Warren’s question at Carson’s confirmation hearing by the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.


The senator had asked, “If you are confirmed to lead HUD, you’ll be responsible for issuing billions of dollars in grants and loans to help develop housing and provide a lot of housing related services. Now housing development is an area in which President-elect Trump and his family have significant business interests. Can you assure me that not a single taxpayer dollar that you give out will financially benefit the president-elect or his family?”

Warren interrupted Carson’s answer, saying, “Dr. Carson, let me stop right there. I’m actually trying to ask a more pointed question, and it’s not about your good faith. That’s not my concern. My concern is whether or not among the billions of dollars that you will be responsible for handing out in grants and loans, can you just assure us that not one dollar will go to benefit either the president-elect or his family?”

“It will not be my intention to do anything to benefit any American particularly. It’s for all Americans, everything that we do,” Carson responded.

“I understand that. Do I take that to mean that you may manage programs that will significantly benefit the president-elect?” Warren asked.

“You can take that to mean that I will manage things in a way that benefits the American people. That is going to be the goal,” Carson said.

Carson added, “If there happens to be an extraordinarily good program that’s working for millions of people, and it turns out that someone that you’re targeting is going to gain you know $10 from it, am I going to say, ‘No, the rest of you Americans can’t have it?’ I think logic and common sense probably would be the best way.”

Warren said the problem with Carson’s answer was that no one could assure her that millions of dollars would not financially benefit Trump or his family, because his assets have not been placed into “a true blind trust.”

“Although we do have a problem here, and I appreciate your good faith in this, and I do, Dr. Carson. The problem is that you can’t assure us that HUD money – not of $10 varieties, but of multi-million varieties – will not end up in the president-elect’s pockets, 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, and this just highlights the absurdity and the danger of the president elect’s refusal to put his assets in a true blind trust,” Warren said.

Warren said since the public doesn’t know Trump’s financial assets, the president-elect can “divert taxpayer money into his own pockets without anyone knowing about it.”

“He knows - he the president-elect knows - what will benefit him and his family financially, but the public doesn’t, which means he can divert taxpayer money into his own pockets without anyone knowing about it,” she said.

“The only way that the American people can know that the president is working in their best interest and not in his own is if he divests and puts his assets in a true blind trust. Transferring his holdings to his children does nothing, as the head of the non-partisan ethics committee said just last night,” Warren said, adding that the since Trump has refused to use a blind trust, Congress must pass a bill that she sponsored, which would “address financial conflicts of interest of the President and Vice President.”

“Since the president-elect refuses to address this voluntarily, we need to pass the Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act that I introduced with more than 20 of my colleagues, which would require him to do so,” she said. 

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