President Donald Trump attacked another prominent African American lawmaker on Saturday, tweeting that his Baltimore district is a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”
Trump’s morning tirade against Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, is the latest verbal assault against a minority member of Congress who is a frequent critic of the President. Two weekends ago, Trump told four progressive Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Three of the four were born in the US, and the fourth is a naturalized US citizen.
Trump attacked Cummings, 68, who is originally from Baltimore and represents Maryland’s 7th Congressional District, for erupting at acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan over border conditions during a congressional hearing on July 18. Cummings’ committee has also launched a number of investigations into the Trump administration related to Trump’s finances and White House practices, including security clearances and Hatch Act violations.
The President on Saturday suggested that conditions in Cummings’ district, which is majority black and includes parts of Baltimore, are “FAR WORSE and more dangerous” than those at the US-Mexico border.
“If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous & filthy place,” Trump wrote, arguing that Cummings’ “district is considered the Worst in the USA” and “no human being would want to live there.”
In Cummings’ district, about 52% of the population is black, while nearly 36% is white, according to US census estimates.
The President gave no indication of the basis of the claim but the tweets followed a segment that aired an hour earlier on Fox News, in which a Republican strategist said conditions in Cummings’ district were worse than those at the southern border.
“Mr. President, I go home to my district daily,” Cummings wrote on Twitter Saturday in response. “Each morning, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neighbors. It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents.”
Cummings told ABC News recently that Trump’s “go back” remarks aimed at the four congresswomen brought back memories of the racism he faced as a boy growing up in Baltimore in the 1960s, echoing the same “very painful” racist insults he had heard during childhood.
Trump has used similar language before to criticize Democratic Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon, and the Georgia district Lewis represents, which includes most of Atlanta.
Reaction to Trump’s tirade was swift with Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. Jack Young tweeting that it was “completely unacceptable for the political leader of our country to denigrate a vibrant American City like Baltimore, and to viciously attack U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings a patriot and a hero.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — whose father represented the city in Congress, and, along with her brother, served as its mayor — echoed those sentiments, condemning Trump’s tweets as racist.
“.@RepCummings is a champion in the Congress and the country for civil rights and economic justice, a beloved leader in Baltimore, and deeply valued colleague. We all reject racist attacks against him and support his steadfast leadership. #ElijahCummingsIsAPatriot,” Pelosi, who was born in Baltimore, tweeted.
Other Democrats came to Baltimore’s defense on Saturday, including 2020 presidential candidate Kamala Harris, whose national campaign headquarters is located there.
“Baltimore has become home to my team and it’s disgraceful the president has chosen to start his morning disparaging this great American city,” Harris wrote on Twitter.