U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson is playing peacemaker between President Trump and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) in the wake of the president’s blistering attack over the weekend on the city of Baltimore, in which he referred to Cummings’ district as “rat-infested” — a charge seemingly supported by the evidence.

Speaking on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program Monday night, Ben Carson said President Trump cares deeply about the people of Baltimore and that he would even be willing to work with Cummings to help the “suffering” city. Carson cited Trump’s policies, including his support of economic opportunity zones, as evidence of his work to help impoverished communities.

“Well, first of all, you know, as a pediatric neurosurgeon, I spent many hours, sometimes operating all night long trying to give children of Baltimore and other places around the world a second chance at life,” Carson said. “And usually, we were successful. But a few days later, I was in a horrible dilemma, because some of those kids had to go back into homes in East Baltimore that were infested with rats and roaches and ticks and mold and lead and violence.”

Carson admitted that he regretted sending those children back to East Baltimore and would have gladly had them stay in the hospital an extra day or two just to keep them safe. He thanked God for the fact he can actually do something to help those children as President Trump’s HUD secretary.

“Fortunately, God’s given me an opportunity to do something about it. And that’s one of the reasons I’m delighted to be in this administration,” Carson continued. “You know, while I was there, I worked on a lot of issues with many politicians, including Elijah Cummings, particularly in terms of childhood education and improving … life for the people.”

Carson defended both President Trump’s and Elijah Cummings’ character, praising them both for trying to help people and adding that the two could potentially work together in the service of Baltimore.

“I don’t think Elijah Cummings is a bad person,” Carson said. “I think he actually is working hard to try to help people. And I certainly don’t think President Trump is a bad person. He’s working very hard — in fact, I asked him today, would you be willing to work with Elijah Cummings to bring some relief to the people of Baltimore? He said he would be happy to.”

For now, however, Carson said that President Trump will be focusing on programs like economic opportunity zones — which gives businesses a tax incentive to invest in underserved communities.

“There are 149 of them in Maryland. And, you know, Governor Hogan is doing a good job of helping to capitalize upon that,” said Carson. “But, also, you know, unemployment is at a very low level. Manufacturing is coming back. Wages are going up, you know, prison reform. All of these things are happening. These are not things that a person who is a racist would do. And we allow ourselves to be distracted by these things.”

“And I think what President Trump was trying to say is that rather than spending your time talking about, you know, our brave border agents and investigating endlessly things that you can’t find anything on, why not spend some time working more for these people, you know, who are suffering?” Carson concluded. “And that he is willing to work with them. I think that’s what we should be asking for.”

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