Ben Carson's confirmation hearing this morning was full of politeness and collegiality, but Elizabeth Warren nonetheless pointed her crossbow at the potential self-dealing of Donald Trump when it comes to federal housing contracts. She wanted to know if nominee Ben Carson would act as a barrier to any potential profiteering the Trump family might try in the public housing arena.
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SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN, D-MA: 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. Housing development is an area 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?
BEN CARSON: Senator, I was worried that I wouldn't get that [question] [laughter] 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.
WARREN: Dr. Carson, let me stop right here. I'm trying to ask a more pointed question and it's not about your good faith. that is not my concern. 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 one dollar will go to benefit either the President-elect or his family?
CARSON: It will not be my intention to do anything to benefit any American. It's for all Americans, everything we do.
WARREN: I take that to mean you may manage programs that will significantly benefit the President-elect?
CARSON: You can take it to mean that that benefits... I will manage things in ways the American people will benefit. That is going to be the goal. If there happens to be an extraordinarily good program that is working for millions of people and it turns out that someone that you are targeting is going to gain $10 from that, am I going to say now, the rest of the Americans can't have it? I think logic and common sense probably would be the best way.
WARREN: We do have a problem here and I appreciate your good faith in this. The problem is that you can't assure us that HUD money, not of ten-dollar varieties, but million-dollar varieties, will not end up in the President-elect's pocket. 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 it back as any true blind trust. He knows, 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. 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 nonpartisan Ethics Committee said just last night. 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.