Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who has been a confidant to President-elect Donald Trump since the end of the Republican primaries, is unlikely to join the administration but will remain an informal adviser.
“The way I’m leaning is to work from the outside and not from the inside,” Carson said in an interview Tuesday with The Washington Post. “I want to have the freedom to work on many issues and not be pigeonholed into one particular area.”
Carson, who is Trump’s most high-profile African American supporter, has been under consideration for several positions in Trump’s Cabinet, including secretary of health and human services.
Carson said he has made his decision clear to Trump in several private conversations in recent days.
“I’ve said that if it came to a point where he absolutely needs me, I’d reconsider. But I don’t think that’s the situation with these positions,” he said. “My view is that if some people and the media are going to hate him, then he’s going to need allies on the outside to be there, to be there to move the country forward. I don’t care about a position.’
He added with a chuckle, “Having me as a federal bureaucrat would be like a fish out of water, quite frankly.”
When asked whether he was formally offered a specific post, Carson said, “I was offered things, there's no question about that. I don't want to go into the details.”
Carson said he expects to continue public speaking and media appearances and visiting with Trump, especially when the president-elect travels to Florida, where Carson lives most of the year.
“He's just around the corner from where I am,” Carson said, referring to Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla.
Armstrong Williams, Carson’s business manager, said, “Trump is a brother to Dr. Carson and they’ve formed a formidable bond. I’ve never seen Dr. Carson agonize so much over something. But it’s what’s best for everyone.”
Williams said that Carson will continue to work with Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence on the transition and to share policy and personnel suggestions.
Carson noted that he has a strong working relationship with Stephen K. Bannon, Trump's controversial pick to be chief strategist at the White House.
Bannon is “a very smart and wise counselor,” Carson said. “He's the big-picture person.”
Carson’s decision to not accept a Cabinet post was first reported by Circa, a news website.