Trump says he invoked Fifth Amendment, declined to answer questions

Trump offers Detroit native Ben Carson HUD post

Jennifer Jacobs
Bloomberg News

Donald Trump has offered former political rival and Detroit native Ben Carson the job of housing secretary.

Carson, 65, is a retired neurosurgeon who sought the 2016 Republican presidential nomination before becoming an informal adviser to Trump. He’s never held elected office. Two people familiar with the matter confirmed that Trump had offered Carson the job, after Carson said Tuesday on Fox News that it was one of several options he would consider over the Thanksgiving holiday.

“I feel that I can make a significant contribution particularly to making our inner cities great for everyone,” Carson said in a Facebook posting, adding that “an announcement is forthcoming about my role.”

Trump is in Florida for Thanksgiving as he and his team work to fill thousands of administration jobs before his January inauguration. He has already announced his choices for national security adviser, attorney general, and CIA director, while other major posts including secretaries of state, defense and the Treasury remain unfilled.

Carson said Tuesday on Fox News that “our inner cities are in terrible shape and they definitely need some real attention,” noting he’d grown up in one as a native of Detroit. Before running for president, he was a famed motivational speaker and writer.

HUD’s self-described mission is “to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.” Trump’s nominee for the housing post also will require confirmation by the Republican-controlled Senate and would succeed Julian Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio.

Raised by a single mother, Carson attended Yale University, where classmates said he was quiet and religious despite the turbulent times at the school.

Carson rose to national prominence for the successful 1987 separation of twins conjoined at the head at the John Hopkins Hospital, and his memoir, “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story,” became a movie starring Cuba Gooding Jr.

Long a Democrat despite his vote for President Ronald Reagan, Carson became a conservative hero when he criticized Obama to his face at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast.

During his campaign, the soft-spoken Carson faced questions over the accuracy of some parts of his biography, particularly his account of a knife attack on a friend that was stopped by the boy’s belt buckle.

Trump during the campaign compared Carson’s “pathological temper” to a permanent disposition like child molesting. “You don’t cure these people,” Trump said on CNN. “You don’t cure a child molester.”

The Department of Housing and Urban Development could play an important role in Trump’s administration, after the Republican president-elect repeatedly pledged in his campaign to address problems plaguing inner-city minority communities. Most of the agency’s annual budget of over $37 billion goes to rental and homeless assistance programs across the country.

Policy changes at the agency could have ripple effects across the housing market. Carson could, for instance, roll back Obama administration initiatives that mandated a tenant’s criminal history not be a factor in housing, or put new restrictions on how long the federal government offers housing assistance. The department’s block-grant programs to underwrite construction of new housing and infrastructure could appeal to Trump, whose family fortune derives from his real estate business.

Carson would also have to grapple with the aftermath of a massive data breach discovered in September that potentially exposed the personal information of more than 425,000 public housing residents. Identifying data, including Social Security numbers and dates of birth, were inadvertently made publicly available on the agency’s website.