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Ben Carson addresses last summer's Republican National Convention. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Ben Carson, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, has told confidants he wants to start a think tank after President Trump leaves office next month.

Why it matters: Carson's planning signals his private recognition of what many Trump loyalists won't say publicly: Donald Trump will not serve a second term — at least not consecutively. The secretary has not publicly acknowledged Joe Biden's election win but is preparing for a future outside the federal government.

Background: Carson, a neurosurgeon by trade who competed with Trump for the Republican Party's 2016 presidential nomination, wants to start an organization that will promote Trump's policies and foster bipartisan dialogue, a source in his inner circle told Axios.

  • It's unclear how any such group would be funded or mesh with any entity Trump launches in exile. The closest the source came to defining policy focuses was to say it would include "increasing self-sufficiency" and "promoting religious freedom."

Another focus: Carson wants to "heal the wounds of divisiveness," the source said.

  • It would be a very tall order indeed, as Trump's unstinting efforts to create and exacerbate such wounds show no sign of abating.
  • Just this week, the president retweeted a missive saying two Georgia Republican officials who acknowledged Biden's win will shortly be going to jail.

Be smart: As much as Carson may plan for his future or show fealty to Trump in the process, he can't forget the president lambasted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this week for saying publicly that Biden — not him — will be inaugurated as president next month.

Go deeper

Jan 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden on Trump's impeachment trial: "I think it has to happen"

President Biden told CNN Monday that he believes the impeachment trial of former President Trump "has to happen," but he does not think 17 Republicans will join Democrats to vote to convict.

Why it matters: Biden's comments are most concrete he has made about his views on Trump's second impeachment.

21 mins ago - Health

CDC director says COVID-19 messaging should have been clearer

Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that the messaging around the COVID-19 pandemic and changing guidance should have been clearer.

State of play: Walensky is being coached by media experts and is planning to have more press briefings by herself in order to ensure that CDC is seen as an independent, scientific entity, rather than as a political one, the Journal reports.

39 mins ago - World

Emiratis ask Blinken to label Houthis terrorist designation

Secretary of State Tony Blinken (left) listens to United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan during a joint news conference at the State Department iin October. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed asked Secretary of State Tony Blinken in a phone call Monday to re-designate the Houthi rebels in Yemen as a terrorist organization, a senior Emirati official told Axios.

Why it matters: Less than a month after he assumed office, President Biden rolled back the Trump administration’s decision to make the designation. He said it hampered humanitarian assistance to the Yemeni people. Since then, the Houthis have escalated their attacks against Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region — including an attack Monday on Abu Dhabi.

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