President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump encounters GOP resistance to investigating Hunter Biden Trump’s 2016 team sounds alarm as Democrats make gains Whistleblower lawyer sends cease and desist to White House over Trump’s attacks MORE spent the weekend excoriating Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsFormer NAACP president to run for Cummings’s House seat Elijah Cummings’s widow ‘thinking carefully’ about running for his old seat Trump’s criminal justice reform record fraught with contradiction MORE (D-Md.), inflaming racial tensions once again by taking aim at a top African American Democratic lawmaker and parts of the majority-black district he represents.
The president on Saturday and Sunday sent more than a dozen tweets assailing Cummings and the city of Baltimore. The weekend started with Trump describing the country’s 30th-largest city and surrounding areas as a “very dangerous & filthy place” where “no human being would want to live,” and it ended with Trump calling Cummings — the son of sharecroppers in South Carolina — a “racist.”
It marked the second time in three weeks that Trump targeted a prominent minority Democratic lawmaker and in many ways mirrored how his attacks on Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezProgressive freshmen jump into leadership PAC fundraising Sanders campaign names Hispanic activist Iowa co-chair Top Sanders adviser defends Pressley’s Warren endorsement MORE (D-N.Y.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarOmar decries McDonald’s CEO’s M exit package Top Sanders adviser defends Pressley’s Warren endorsement Sanders adviser defends Ocasio-Cortez endorsement MORE (D-Minn.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibTop Sanders adviser defends Pressley’s Warren endorsement Sanders adviser defends Ocasio-Cortez endorsement ‘Squad’ members tweet support for Pressley after she splits with group by endorsing Warren MORE (D-Minn.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyProgressive freshmen jump into leadership PAC fundraising Top Sanders adviser defends Pressley’s Warren endorsement Panel: Tulsi ends Joy Behar live on the View MORE (D-Mass.) played out.
In targeting Cummings, the president went after a well-respected, 13-term congressman who leads one of the committees leading investigations into his administration.
Trump launched the first of what would be several broadsides against Cummings on Saturday morning. The president may have been agitated by Cummings’s resolve to pursue oversight or set off by a Fox News segment that aired Saturday morning that included footage of Cummings’s district, which encompasses parts of the city of Baltimore as well as suburban and rural areas.
Trump decried Cummings as a “brutal bully” for his fierce critiques of conditions at the southern border and suggested Baltimore “is FAR WORSE and more dangerous. His district is considered the Worst in the USA.”
“As proven last week during a Congressional tour, the Border is clean, efficient & well run, just very crowded,” Trump continued. “Cumming District is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess. If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous & filthy place.”
With Cummings as chairman, the House Oversight and Reform Committee has voted to hold Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrWashington Post hits back at Trump’s ‘repugnant’ tweet Trump pushes back on report that he wanted Barr to clear him on Ukraine in news conference: ‘Totally untrue’ The Hill’s Morning Report – Dems poised to air alleged Trump abuses on TV MORE and Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossTrump trade adviser pushes back on reports of US-China tariff deal China, US agree to reduce tariffs amid trade talks, Beijing says Income for poorest Americans fell faster than previously thought: study MORE in contempt for defying subpoenas; heard testimony from former Trump attorney Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenDOJ releases hundreds of pages of memos from Mueller probe Scaramucci visits Cohen in prison US Supreme Court readies for Trump MORE; held a hearing on conditions at the southern border; and authorized a subpoena for official communications from senior White House advisers Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpThe Hill’s Morning Report – What Bevin’s apparent loss in Kentucky means Man pleads guilty in plot to attack Cleveland on July 4 Trump wanted to build resort in Ukraine before taking office: report MORE and Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerMan pleads guilty in plot to attack Cleveland on July 4 Progressives press Democrats to rethink Israel policy Trump denies knowing lobbyist who boasted of inside access to administration MORE.
In a press conference after former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerGowdy: I ‘100 percent’ still believe public congressional hearings are ‘a circus’ Comey: Mueller ‘didn’t succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency’ Fox News legal analyst says Trump call with Ukraine leader could be ‘more serious’ than what Mueller ‘dragged up’ MORE‘s testimony, Cummings pledged that he could continue to hold Trump accountable despite resistance from the administration, arguing the future of the government was at stake.
“We refuse to betray generations yet unborn and the American people,” Cummings said alongside Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSenate fight derails bipartisan drug pricing bills CR discussions veer toward December: Shelby Scarborough knocks GOP senator for Pelosi remark: He ‘degraded himself’ MORE (D-Calif.) and other committee chairmen. “We’re not going to betray them.”
“We’re going to do our part to make sure that we have a democracy that’s intact,” he added.
Trump, who spent part of his weekend at his Virginia golf club, fired back at Cummings with a barrage of tweets chastising him and the city of Baltimore.
“Why is so much money sent to the Elijah Cummings district when it is considered the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States,” Trump tweeted Saturday morning. “No human being would want to live there.”
The president quote-tweeted multiple videos that purported to show abandoned homes in Cummings’s district used as dumping grounds for trash. In each case, Trump blamed the congressman for the images.
In one case, he retweeted far-right British commentator Katie Hopkins, who described Baltimore as a “proper sh*thole.”
“So sad that Elijah Cummings has been able to do so little for the people of Baltimore,” Trump tweeted Saturday. “Statistically, Baltimore ranks last in almost every major category. Cummings has done nothing but milk Baltimore dry, but the public is getting wise to the bad job that he is doing!”
Cummings responded to Trump’s initial wave of insults on Saturday morning by rejecting the criticisms and urging the president to work on a bipartisan basis.
“Mr. President, I go home to my district daily. Each morning, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neighbors,” Cummings tweeted. “It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents.”
Democrats rallied around Cummings to denounce the tweets as racist and condemn Trump’s open disdain for a major U.S. city.
“It’s unbelievable that we have a president of the United States who attacks American cities, who attacks Americans, who attacks somebody who is a friend of mine,” Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders camp on Bloomberg: ‘More billionaires’ not ‘the change America needs’ Warren campaign launches ‘a calculator for the billionaires’ after Gates criticism Poll: Biden support hits record low of 26 percent MORE (I-Vt.) said Sunday on CNN.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerWhat this ‘impeachment’ is really about — and it’s not the Constitution Trump officials weigh adding more countries to travel ban list: report House approves Trump impeachment procedures MORE (D-N.Y.) called the president’s tweet suggesting money was being stolen from Cummings’s district “disgusting and racist.”
Pelosi rejected Trump’s tweets as “racist” and hailed Cummings as “a champion in the Congress and the country for civil rights and economic justice, a beloved leader in Baltimore, and deeply valued colleague.”
But Trump and his allies were quick to accuse Democrats of overusing allegations of racism and suggested criticism of Cummings and his district was fair.
Acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyMulvaney subpoenaed by House Democrats in impeachment inquiry Democrats set stage for Watergate-style TV hearings White House doubles down on ‘no quid pro quo’ MORE said on “Face the Nation” that he understood why some might view the tweets as racist, “but that doesn’t mean it’s racist.”
“The President is pushing back against what he sees as wrong,” Mulvaney said. “It’s how he’s done in the past and he’ll continue to do in the future.”
Trump was more forceful in his rebuttal to charges of racism.
“There is nothing racist in stating plainly what most people already know, that Elijah Cummings has done a terrible job for the people of his district, and of Baltimore itself,” Trump tweeted Sunday. “Dems always play the race card when they are unable to win with facts.”
Within an hour, Trump sent a follow-up tweet calling Cummings a racist and deriding his “radical ‘oversight'” as “a joke.”
The sequence of events played out in nearly identical fashion to the president’s attacks on the self-styled “squad” of Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaib and Pressley.
Two weeks ago, Trump set off a firestorm by tweeting that the four minority Democrats should “go back” to their countries and “help fix the totally broken crime infested places from which they came.”
All four are U.S. citizens, and only Omar, a Somali refugee, was not born in the country. The House later voted to condemn Trump’s “racist comments,” while the president tweeted that he does not have a “racist bone” in his body.
But Trump’s attack steadily escalated, accusing the four congresswomen of hating the country. It culminated in incendiary fashion with a rally crowd chanting “send her back” about Omar and with Trump calling the group “a very Racist group of troublemakers who are young, inexperienced, and not very smart.”
While Trump made clear he views tying the broader Democratic Party to four of its most progressive lawmakers as politically advantageous, it’s less clear how the president will benefit from picking on a well-liked and more moderate representative such as Cummings, who has spoken of his friendship with close Trump ally Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsProgressive freshmen jump into leadership PAC fundraising Top diplomat says Giuliani’s ‘campaign of lies’ took down veteran ambassador Overnight Defense: Pentagon says Syrian oil revenue going to Kurdish forces | GOP chair accuses Dems of using Space Force as leverage in wall fight | Dems drop plans to seek Bolton testimony MORE (R-N.C.).
The president suggested that his support won’t suffer for the attacks and that it might even receive a boost. He relied, as he often does, on statistics showing African American unemployment declining under his administration.
In one instance, he closed a tweet with the hashtag #BlacksForTrump2020, and in another, he referenced opportunity zones developed through tax reform legislation passed in 2017.
“Waiting for Nancy and Elijah to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. President!'” Trump tweeted Sunday.
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