On CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” on Tuesday, commentators debated over the appearance before the House by President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, during which he was incapable of understanding the simplest functions of what his agency does when pressed by members of Congress.
Some commentators had sympathy for Carson — but all of them agreed he was incapable of running the agency Trump put him in charge of.
“A piece of me is sympathetic to Ben Carson,” said analyst David Gergen. “I was on a university board with him about 20 years ago, and he was celebrated in much of the country because he came out of poverty in Detroit. People told him when he was growing up, he would never amount to anything, he’d always be poor. He got his way through Yale and medical school. He became the chief pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins.”
“He’s not a slouch intellectually,” concluded Gergen. “There are many good things about Ben Carson. He’s absolutely in the wrong job.”
“It’s an enormous bureaucracy that affects a lot of people’s lives,” agreed Cooper.
“Exactly. Exactly. Should he be on top of it? I think in taking him to task here, we ought to understand the rest of him,” said Gergen.
Cooper then played commentator Gloria Borger a clip of Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) demanding Carson tell her whether he would willingly place his family members in public housing, for which he refused to provide an answer. “Gloria, what do you make of that exchange?”
“He had to know he was going to go before this committee and he was going to be asked these kinds of questions,” said Borger. “And instead of just answering yes or no, or saying ‘let me explain where I’m coming from on this,’ he continued to evade. The more he refused to answer, the tougher she got. And he is a cabinet secretary, particularly going before a Democratic committee, ought to be prepared for this. She was tough, but he needed to be able to defend his agency if that’s what he wanted to do. And instead, he was just kind of lethargic and said, ‘well, you know what the answer to that is’ and refused to sort of get out there and say ‘let me explain my policies to you and why I believe they’re right.’
“David, is there a difference in — is this kind of a trend of how people are now testifying, sort of, ‘well, I’ll answer the question I want to answer. I will claim executive privilege even though the president hasn’t claimed it, I’ll make it up and claim it myself?'” asked Cooper. “Is there something new going on, or has there always just been pathetic testimony at times?”
“That’s a good question, Anderson,” said Gergen. “My sense of it is that what we’re seeing is something new, and is an extension of the stonewalling policy that the administration has adopted, and that is increasingly in these hearings, the people coming from the administration are showing a disdain for the questioners. Did she start berating him? Yes. I thought it was excessively harsh kind of questioning. Nevertheless, I think it’s highly objectionable and unfortunate for the country that breakdown of relationships between the Congress and the presidency have descended to this level.”
Cooper then asked Borger what she thought of Carson taking a self-deprecating picture of himself with Oreos after Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) exposed him for not knowing what an REO is.
“Good try,” said Borger. “I think it was a good try. I’m sure she welcomed the cookies sent to her office. Sometimes you can’t laugh your way out of things. What he should have done and maybe in addition to the cookies, is send up some answers to her questions which he did not answer because he was not prepared to answer. I think she would have appreciated that a lot more.”
Moderate Dem lawmaker tells CNN why Trump’s ‘appalling behavior’ changed his mind on impeachment
Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT), a moderate Democrat and a member of the centrist New Democrat Coalition, went on CNN on Tuesday to explain why he has changed his mind and now supports starting an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
In an interview with CNN's John Berman, Himes said that Trump has regularly shown that he doesn't care about obeying the law, as evidenced by his decision to completely shrug off his own Office of Special Counsel's finding that adviser Kellyanne Conway has repeatedly violated the Hatch Act.
"Kellyanne Conway had clearly broken the law and she should be removed from office," Himes said. "And the president said, 'Ah heck, that doesn't matter.'"
9/11 first responder busts Trump for lying about helping them: ‘There’s no meeting’
Appearing in CNN's New Day, two New York City first responders trashed Congress for its foot-dragging over providing funding to help those afflicted by illnesses directly related from the 9/11 attack.
Speaking with hosts John Berman and Alisyn Camerota, 9/11 first responder John Feal first took shots at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) before getting around to recent comments made by President Donald Trump where he claimed he was having a meeting with representatives of the firefighters and police this week.
In an interview with NBC's Chuck Todd, the president noted the work being done by former "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart to help get legislation pushed through, and said that he is taking a personal interest in the 9/11 victims' plight.
‘I don’t have to do it, legally’: Trump says he can invade Iran without Congress’ permission
On Monday, CNN reported that in a new interview, President Donald Trump said that he can invade Iran without congressional approval — and that although he would "like the idea" of keeping Congress in the loop, he doesn't "legally" have to do so.
"I like the idea of keeping Congress abreast, but I wouldn't have to do that," said Trump. In response to the fact that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said he must obtain congressional approval first, Trump said, "I disagree. I think most people seem to disagree."
"I do like keeping them — they are intelligent people," added Trump. "They will come up with some thoughts. I actually learned a couple of things the other day when we had our meeting with Congress which I think were helpful to me. I do like keeping them abreast, but I don't have to do it, legally."