Carson, Warren battle at confirmation hearing

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren: Education Dept lawyer may have violated conflict-of-interest laws Congress should think twice on the Israel Anti-Boycott Act Sanders plans to introduce single-payer bill in September MORE (D-Mass.) grilled Ben Carson at his Thursday confirmation hearing to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The two went back and forth over whether Carson would commit at HUD to prevent any real estate companies linked to President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpAssange meets U.S. congressman, vows to prove Russia did not leak him documents A history lesson on the Confederacy for President Trump GOP senator: Trump hasn't 'changed much' since campaign MORE from contracting with the federal government to build low-income homes.

“Can you assure me that not a single taxpayer dollar you give out will financial benefit the president-elect or his family?” Warren asked Carson.

In response, the former GOP presidential candidate promised to not “play favorites.”

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“I can assure you that the things that I do are driven by a sense of morals and values,” he said.

Warren pressed Carson: “It’s not about your good faith. 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 $1 will go to benefit either the president-elect or his family?”

“It will not be my intention to do anything to benefit [Trump],” Carson responded.

Warren shot back: “Do I take that to mean you may manage programs that will significantly benefit the president-elect?”

“You can take it to mean that I will manage things in a way that benefits the American people,” Carson said.

Carson argued that he would not prevent a company linked with Trump from working with HUD if it might benefit low-income Americans.

“If there happens to be an extraordinary program that’s 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?’ ” he said. “I think logic and common sense probably would be the best way.”

“The problem is that you can’t assure us that HUD money — not of $10 varieties but of multimillion-dollar varieties — will not end up in the president-elect’s pockets,” Warren responded.

Ohio Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOvernight Finance: House passes spending bill with border wall funds | Ryan drops border tax idea | Russia sanctions bill goes to Trump's desk | Dems grill bank regulator picks Dems grill Trump bank regulator nominees Senate Dems launch talkathon ahead of ObamaCare repeal vote MORE, the lead Democrat on the banking panel, echoed concerns raised by Warren.

Trump has an interest in at least one low-income hosing development — Starrett City — which Brown said posed an inherent conflict for the new leader of HUD.
 
Starrett City is a massive development in Brooklyn that sends Trump millions in revenue through rent. In his financial disclosures filed as president, Trump lists his 4 percent share in the asset as being worth between $5 million and $25 million.
 
Brown pressed Carson to stay in contact with the committee if he — or anyone at HUD — has communications with anyone in the Trump Organization or the White House about development projects.
 
"I would be more than delighted to discuss those issues," Carson replied, promising to set up a process to identify potential conflicts.
 
Megan Wilson contributed to this story.