Carson's top adviser can't keep Mannatech story straight

Armstrong Williams, Dr. Ben Carson's close confidant and business manager for over twenty years, admitted to CNN's Jake Tapper in a Thursday evening interview that  Carson did have a "relationship" with the beleaguered nutritional supplement company Mannatech.

"It's over now, but there was some relationship at some point," said Williams.  Carson's longtime adviser then said, "I actually negotiated the contract as his business manager." 

Williams's statements contradict Carson's response to what Carson considered a "gotcha" question at Wednesday night's debate.  Carson told CNBC moderator Carlos Quintanilla he had "no involvement" with Mannatech other than "a couple of paid speeches" set up by the Washington Speaker's Bureau.  Carson denied knowing anything about the company's checkered past, calling the story "total propaganda."

Williams told Tapper he hammered out the details of any contractual agreements involving Carson's speeches and testimonials for Mannatech.

Not only did Williams contradict Carson's claim, but he must have forgotten what he said to National Review Online's Jim Geraghty last January.  In the NRO piece, Williams said the Washington Speakers Bureau handled the negotiations.  He and Carson had nothing to do with the bookings.

From NRO:

I don't know that he's ever had a compensated relationship with Mannatech. All we know is that the Washington Speaker's Bureau, which booked hundreds of speaking engagements for him through the year, booked these engagements.

He had no idea who these people are. They're booked through the speakers' bureau. The question should be asked to the Washington Speakers Bureau, when did they have a relationship with Mannatech, because Dr. Carson never had one.

It gets even more muddled.  In an August 2015  profile of Armstrong Williams, The Hill reported that Carson and Williams have worked in close collaboration on business deals since they met in the 1990s.

From The Hill:

They talk multiple times a day about business, family, life and politics. Their families vacation together. They go to Baltimore Ravens games. Williams even has a room in Carson's Maryland home where he keeps reserve clothes on hand for visits.

Williams often uses the quieter Carson as a sounding board, bouncing ideas and suggestions off him on everything from medicine to fashion[.] … Carson, 63, uses the more outgoing Williams for guidance in real estate deals, recommendations for attorneys and negotiating contracts with the publishers of his books.

Is Williams taking one for Team Carson?  All of this comes after the doctor was able to deflect attention away from Mannatech to all the "gotcha" questions directed at the debaters Wednesday evening.

At a press get-together Thursday morning, Carson called on other Republican candidates to  meet and discuss changing the debate format from gotcha questions to policy ones.  On Friday, RNC chairman Reince Priebus called the CNBC debate a "crap sandwich" and  announced that the GOP would not participate in an upcoming NBC debate.

Lucky for Carson, the mainstream media networks are ignoring Mannatech and  focusing on the fallout from  the CNBC debate.

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