Carson: Critics of Trump's call to Army widow are 'just looking for something to complain about'

Carson: Critics of Trump's call to Army widow are 'just looking for something to complain about'
© Camille Fine

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonKristol-backed group releases ad showing GOP voters blasting Trump over coronavirus response White House slams pastor leading Cabinet Bible studies for linking homosexuality, coronavirus Conservative group hits Trump for coronavirus response in new ad MORE on Wednesday defended President Trump’s controversial call to the widow of a fallen U.S. soldier, saying the president’s critics are “just looking for something to complain about.”

Carson said at an event hosted by The Hill that Trump meant to comfort Myeshia Johnson, the widow of slain Army Sgt. La David Johnson, and that Trump would have been criticized no matter what he said during the call.

“No matter what he says or does, they criticize him,” Carson said when asked if Trump had been treated fairly by the media.

“You wouldn’t call someone to insult them. You call someone to try to comfort them.”

Carson suggested that Trump would have been called a "racist" if he called Johnson’s death in Niger a “dark day,” because the slain soldier was black.

Myeshia Johnson and members of her family on the call with Trump said the president stumbled over her husband's name and upset them.

Trump has denied he said anything wrong. White House aides have defended the president’s intentions while slamming the Johnsons’ congresswoman, Rep. Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonHere are the lawmakers who have self-quarantined as a precaution Biden rise calms Democratic jitters Democrats tear into Trump's speech: It was a 'MAGA rally' MORE (D-Fla.), who spoke about the call publicly after the family let her listen in.

“I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!” Trump wrote Tuesday on Twitter.

Carson said on Wednesday that constantly criticizing Trump even jeopardizes national security.

“When we’re always looking to be critical of everything, how could we ever be in a condition to protect ourselves in an increasingly dangerous world?” the former pediatric neurosurgeon asked, citing North Korea’s potential acquisition of nuclear weapons.

Carson’s comments came during a public interview with The Hill about housing policy and disaster recovery initiatives. He said his agency is currently mulling ways to rebuild areas in the U.S. devastated by hurricanes this summer.

“The people in Puerto Rico have suffered just tremendously," Carson said, adding jokingly that rebuilding from Hurricane Maria could take between “one and 100 years.”

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According to the Puerto Rican government, 75 percent of Puerto Rico remains without power and 25 percent without safe drinking water. Millions of residents lost their homes, and hundreds of thousands are expected to resettle in the U.S. mainland.

Carson said storm recovery efforts should include rebuilding communities to be more resilient to storms, and that the Department of House and Urban Development was mulling new ways to construct stronger homes.

“We need to start rethinking ‘How do we remediate after a flood?’ ” Carson said. “Why are we using drywall in the first floor and basement in buildings?”

“Why are we putting the essential guts of a building in the first floor or basement,” Carson said. “That makes absolutely no sense.”

Carson also said he’s involved in discussions to make the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) more financially stable. Lawmakers in both chambers are working on revamping the debt-riddled federal flood insurance provider, which overran its borrowing limit after payouts to summer hurricane victims.

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Most Republicans are eager to move NFIP policyholders toward private insurance, but Democrats and some coastal Republicans are concerned about efforts to raise the cap on NFIP premiums to $10,000, a level they consider unacceptably high.

Carson offered little detail about how to fix the program, but said “there should be more attention on it.”

- This story was updated at 5 p.m.