Mar 20, 2018

The strange saga of Ben Carson and his table

Secretary Ben Carson. Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein / Getty Images

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has been in hot water in recent weeks over reports that he ordered a $31,000 dining set for his office using taxpayer dollars. His latest explanation, on Tuesday: "I left it to my wife."

The bigger picture: Carson joins other cabinet officials who have been scrutinized for seemingly lavish spending. From a cost standpoint, his case is far from the most eye-popping — but it includes some particularly interesting twists and turns.

February 27: The NYT breaks the news of the purchase. HUD spokesman Raffi Williams tells the Times that Carson "didn’t know the table had been purchased," but doesn't plan to return it and doesn't believe it cost too much.

February 28: CNN reports that Trump is "furious" about the story.

March 1: Carson's business manager, Armstrong Williams, tells the NYT that Carson has requested the purchase be cancelled. Carson also says in a statement that no one "was more surprised than me" about the purchase.

March 14: Emails dug up by CNN reveal that Carson and his wife knew about the purchase, and selected the table themselves.

March 16: Chief of staff John Kelly says that the purchase is justifiable because it could last up to 100 years.

March 20: Carson says the table was his wife's choice, as he isn't "big into redecorating," per the NYT: “I left it to my wife, you know, to choose something. I dismissed myself from the issues.”

Go deeper

16 mins ago - World

Kremlin says Trump discussed inviting Russia to G7 in call with Putin

President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at their bilateral meeting at the G20 Osaka Summit 2019, in Osaka, Japan in 2019. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on Monday about Trump's plans to expand September's G7 meeting in Washington to include Russia, according to the Russian government's readout of the call.

The big picture: The phone call between the two leaders, which the Kremlin says was initiated by Trump, comes amid six consecutive days of mass unrest in the U.S. over police brutality and racial inequality. The White House confirmed the call took place and said a readout was forthcoming.

Facebook employees stage "virtual walkout"

Screenshot of an image some Facebook employees are adding to their internal profiles, with or without the hashtag, to protest company policy.

"Dozens" of Facebook employees staged a "virtual walkout" Monday over the company's decision not to take action against President Trump's provocative messages in the face of nationwide protests against police violence, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: While Twitter added fact-check labels and hid the president's most inflammatory tweet — "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" — Facebook has said Trump's statements do not violate its policies, and that the platform aims to promote free speech.

Updated 58 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump lashes out at governors, urges them to "dominate" protesters

President Trump berated the nation’s governors in a video teleconference call Monday, calling many of them "weak" and demanding tougher crackdowns on the protests that erupted throughout the country following the killing of George Floyd, according to multiple reports.

The big picture: Trump blamed violence on the "the radical left" and told the governors, who were joined by law enforcement and national security officials, that they have to "dominate" protesters and "arrest people" in order to bring an end to the unrest.