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Elizabeth Warren Explained to Ben Carson Why He Should Be Fired, and It's Not About Dining Room Furniture

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) scolded Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson over his failure to reduce housing discrimination during his time in office.


Warren suggested that Carson should be fired for his ineffective leadership, which is just the latest scandal plaguing the soft-spoken former neurosurgeon. Carson was testifying before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on Thursday when Warren gave him a piece of her mind.

Mr. Secretary, a lot of people are criticizing you for spending tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money on fancy furniture, and, don’t get me wrong, I think scamming the taxpayers is a scandal. But the biggest scandal of your tenure is your unwillingness to do your job and enforce the laws that reduce housing discrimination and segregation across this country.

Warren didn't stop there.

We are going backwards. It is HUD’s job to help end housing discrimination. That’s what the law said. You said you would enforce these laws. You haven’t, and I think that’s the scandal that should get you fired.

Ouch.

Earlier this month, Carson removed anti-discrimination language from HUD's mission statement, eliminating the terms "inclusive" and "free from discrimination." Carson then reversed the decision after waves of negative press.

The HUD mission statement reads:

HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination, and transform the way HUD does business.

But that isn't the only mistake shadowing the embattled HUD Secretary.

The chief information officer from Carson's department was fired in March of this year after The Guardian reported his former assistant mounted allegations of corruption. The assistant, Katrina Hubbard, claims that she was fired for bringing the alleged crimes to the attention of a federal watchdog group. “I reported information about fraud, waste, and abuse, and as a result, I was retaliated against,” Hubbard told the Guardian.

Carson is also currently embroiled in a scandal in which he authorized spending $31,000 worth of taxpayer money on a new dining set for his D.C. office. Carson has since blamed the situation on his wife.

This isn't the first time Warren and Carson have exchanged jabs, however. During Carson's Senate confirmation hearing last year, Carson declined to answer whether he could assure that President Donald Trump and his family would not personally benefit from HUD incentives. Trump's New York City real estate holdings include shares in Brooklyn's expanding affordable housing projects.

Carson's answer was nebulous at best. "It will not be my intention to do anything to benefit any American particularly," he replied. "It’s for all Americans, everything that we do." Unsatisfied with his side-stepping, Warren fired back. “I understand that. Do I take that to mean that you may manage programs that will significantly benefit the president-elect?"

Carson replied.

You can take it to mean that I will manage things that will benefit the American people. 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’re targeting is going to gain $10 from it, am I going to say, ‘No, the rest of you Americans can’t have it’? I think logic and common sense will probably be the best way.

Given the rash of Trump administration firings of late, the idea that Carson could soon be unemployed isn't too farfetched.