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CNN commentators tip-toe around Ben Carson’s ignorance about his own agency: ‘Good try’

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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.

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“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.

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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?”

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“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.”

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Entire CNN panel beats down Santorum for Ukraine misinformation: ‘You don’t get to decide what the facts are’

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Conservative CNN contributor Rick Santorum was called out on Sunday after he seemed to be uneducated about President Donald Trump's attempt to have Ukraine investigate Joe Biden and his son.

During a panel discussion on CNN, Republican contributor Mia Love said that Trump's communication with Ukraine was not "appropriate" if he was looking for campaign help.

"There is no equivalence between Joe Biden and Hunter Biden and what this president has allegedly done," Democratic consultant Karen Finney noted. "The things that were investigated against the Bidens [were] shelved, totally debunked."

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Tapper smacks Mnuchin with Trump kids’ international business deals after attack on Biden son

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In a fairly contentious interview with Steve Mnuchin, CNN host Jake Tapper pointed out how Donald Trump's children -- Don Jr., Ivanka and Eric -- have been using their father's name to swing international deals after the Treasury secretary accused former Vice President Joe Biden's son of doing the same.

Mnuchin first dismissed reporting by the Washington Post and the conservative Wall Street Journal that Donald Trump was withholding Ukraine funding in an effort to get dirt on Biden and his son -- saying neither newspaper could be trusted -- he then complained to the CNN host about having to spend seven and a half minutes talking about Trump's Ukraine scandal.

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Trump felt free to ask for Ukraine election interference after Mueller let him off the hook: Wired reporter Garrett Graff

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On CNN's "New Day Weekend," author and commentator Garrett Graff noted that President Donald Trump's attempt to push Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden came right after former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in 2016 ended — and suggested the two were related.

"You know, Garrett, there may be some people thinking 'Gosh, we just got out of the whole scenario with the Mueller report. Now we have this again,'" said anchor Christi Paul. "Do you get a sense that there are people looking at this saying 'I think I have confidence in the 2020 election?'"

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