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HUD Secretary Ben Carson: I’m not leaving, but I will resign. But maybe stay.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson is shown at the White House in January 2019
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson is shown at the White House in January 2019 (Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post)

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson was so moved by the people who approached him at an airport to thank him for his service and say they were sorry to see him go that he decided to clarify matters in a Facebook post with a bold headline: “I AM NOT LEAVING!”

Carson wrote that he will continue to serve President Trump “enthusiastically” and is committed to completing his four years as HUD secretary. But if Trump wins the 2020 election and asks Carson to stay on, he would “consider serving another term,” he said.

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This comes after Carson told a conservative news outlet that he would prefer to leave public office at the end of Trump’s term and return to the private sector, where “you have just as much influence, maybe more, there.” Newsmax TV aired the interview Monday, and it was widely reported by national news outlets.

But the experience at the airport Thursday apparently prompted him to expand on his plans.

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Following a statute covering all secretaries, Carson said, he will resign at the end of the four-year term. “Hopefully we will have turned this ‘aircraft carrier’ around by then," he added. "If not and President Trump desires that I continue, I will feel a duty to do so and would consider serving another term.”

Staring back at Facebook users is an image of a smiling Carson, accompanied by "I AM NOT LEAVING!”

An HUD spokesman declined to comment. The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson allowed his son to help organize an event in Baltimore last year even though department lawyers warned it created the appearance of a conflict of interest.

A retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon who gained a national profile for his pioneering surgery separating conjoined twins, Carson ran unsuccessfully for the White House in 2016. Trump appointed Carson to lead HUD despite his lack of government experience or prior work in housing or as an executive.

His leadership of HUD has generated controversy and congressional scrutiny for such issues as a plan to redecorate his office with a $31,000 mahogany dining set and his political team’s seeking to triple the minimum rent paid by families on federal housing assistance.

The administration has experienced unusually high turnover within the White House and in the Cabinet. Major departures include the top officials at the State, Defense and Justice Departments. The administration is on its fourth White House communications director, its fourth national security adviser and its third chief of staff.

New documents made public Wednesday suggest Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson was involved with the purchase of the controversial $31,000 furniture set for his office suite, despite claims by an agency spokesman that he was not aware of it.

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