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Trump Picks Retired Neurosurgeon as Housing Chief

  • VOA News

FILE - Dr. Ben Carson, center, waits for the the third debate between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during the third presidential at UNLV in Las Vegas

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has picked one of his former Republican rivals, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, to be his housing and urban development chief.

Trump said Monday that Carson "has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities. We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities."

The 65-year-old Carson has no expertise in housing policy, but did spend part of his childhood living in public housing, which the Department of Housing and Urban Development oversees. In the past, he has voiced opposition to government programs that encourage what he says is "dependency," and touted the virtues of individual effort in becoming successful.

Carson briefly led Trump in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, but support for him waned and he eventually dropped out and endorsed Trump. He is the first African-American Trump has named to his cabinet.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a roundtable meeting with the Republican Leadership Initiative in his offices at Trump Tower in New York, Aug. 25, 2016.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a roundtable meeting with the Republican Leadership Initiative in his offices at Trump Tower in New York, Aug. 25, 2016.

Carson's appointment, like those of Trump's other cabinet selections for his new administration, must be confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate. Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was "confident [Carson's] lifelong career of selfless service will be a positive addition to the incoming administration."

But Nancy Pelosi, leader of the minority Democrats in the House of Representatives, called Carson's appointment a "disconcerting and disturbingly unqualified choice," saying there was "no evidence" that he had "the necessary credentials" to lead the housing agency.

Secretary of state search

Carson's appointment came as the president-elect continued to meet in New York with other possible cabinet members, with a spokesman saying more selections will be announced this week. Trump is still weighing his choice for secretary of state, the country's top foreign affairs post, but aides said that choice may not come until next week.

Trump appeared last week to have narrowed his list to four names: former New York Mayor Rudy Giulani, losing 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, former Central Intelligence Agency chief David Petraeus and Tennessee Senator Bob Corker.

Former CIA Director David Petraeus testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Middle East policy, Sept. 22, 2015.
Former CIA Director David Petraeus testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Middle East policy, Sept. 22, 2015.

But he also interviewed former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton and is talking to several others, including former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, retired Navy Admiral James Stavridis and ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson.

Trump also met with former Democratic Vice President Al Gore, who said he had a "productive" meeting with the president-elect. Gore, a leading global advocate for controlling the effects of man-made climate change, called the discussions a "sincere search for common ground."

Former Vice President Al Gore speaks to members of the media after meeting with Ivanka Trump and President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York, Dec. 5, 2016.
Former Vice President Al Gore speaks to members of the media after meeting with Ivanka Trump and President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York, Dec. 5, 2016.

Trump has called man-made climate change a hoax, but said recently that he has an open mind on continued U.S. compliance with the worldwide Paris climate pact that took effect a month ago.

Meanwhile, Trump continued his attacks Monday on one of his favorite targets, the U.S. news media, although he did not say what story had drawn his ire.

"If the press would cover me accurately & honorably," he tweeted, "I would have far less reason to 'tweet.' Sadly, I don't know if that will ever happen!"

White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas contributed to this report.

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