Democratic Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings declined an invitation to tour a Baltimore federal housing facility with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson on Wednesday, The Daily Caller reported.
In a Wednesday news conference in Baltimore, Carson defended President Donald Trump, stating that “[Trump is] very willing to work with people here in Baltimore, including with Elijah Cummings.”
But though Carson had contacted Cummings and invited the Maryland Democrat to join him in touring HUD facility in the city, Cummings turned down the offer.
When asked by a reporter why Cummings did not attend the tour, Carson replied that he did not know the congressman’s reason.
“I have no idea. I suspect he probably could not alter his schedule that quickly, that would be my suspicion,” the HUD secretary said.
Watch Carson’s remarks below:
Carson also added that he would like the president to tour Baltimore, as well.
“I would love for him to come and first of all just tour and have an opportunity to see things that work and things that don’t work,” Carson said.
The president has been under fire in recent weeks for his comments about Cummings and his district.
Carson called for unity in helping to solve Baltimore’s problems, drawing on his experience working in the city at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.
“There’s a lot to be proud of here in Baltimore,” he said.
Carson also acknowledged, however, that many Baltimore residents are in trouble — and that he saw their troubles firsthand as Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins.
The secretary’s press conference got off to a rocky start when Carson and his staff were asked to leave an empty lot where they had planned to speak to reporters.
According to The Baltimore Sun, the lot belongs to a local Baptist church.
Church member Gregory Evans asked the HUD group to leave the property, saying “It’s nothing personal,” The Sun reported.
Carson decried Evans’ request as a symptom of the country’s larger problem.
“We just have all this animosity all the time,” Carson said. “Right here is this church that said: ‘Get off our property.’ You know, a church? When we’re talking about helping the people. I mean, this is the level to which we have sunken as a society.”
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