President Donald Trump slammed one of his leading congressional opponents, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), in a Saturday morning Twitter rant calling him a “brutal bully” and berating his majority-black Baltimore district as a “rodent infested mess.”
It’s the latest in a series of attacks in which the president has used language widely condemned as racist to insult a nonwhite member of Congress, this time prompted by Cummings’ comments about inhumane conditions at the southern border.
“Rep, Elijah Cummings has been a brutal bully, shouting and screaming at the great men & women of Border Patrol about conditions at the Southern Border, when actually his Baltimore district is FAR WORSE and more dangerous,” Trump wrote.
The president went on to defend conditions at the border as “clean, efficient & well run,” deriding Cummings’ city as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” and a “very dangerous & filthy place.”
….As proven last week during a Congressional tour, the Border is clean, efficient & well run, just very crowded. 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
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 27, 2019
Trump followed up the tweets with a third post containing unsubstantiated accusations of corruption and questioning why there 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.”
In a response to Trump later that morning, Cummings tweeted, “Mr. President, I go home to my district daily. 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.”
Mr. President, I go home to my district daily. 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.
— Elijah E. Cummings (@RepCummings) July 27, 2019
The president’s tweets were rebuked by Baltimore Mayor Jack Young, who released a statement calling the disparagement of the city and Cummings “completely unacceptable.”
“Mr. Trump’s rhetoric is hurtful and dangerous to the people he’s sworn to represent,” he said. “As the Mayor of Baltimore, I won’t stand for anyone, not even the alleged Leader of the Free World, attacking our great City or our representative to Congress.”
Furthering his condemnation, Young called Trump a “disappointment to the people of Baltimore, our country, and to the world.”
Trump’s remarks about the congressman come on the heels of his series of attacks on four other lawmakers of color ― Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).
In tweets written nearly two weeks ago, Trump appeared to urge them to “go back” to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” a remark bearing similarities to his comments about Cummings’ district.
In 2017, at the start of Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, Trump lashed out against black Rep. John Lewis’ (D-Ga.) district as “in horrible shape,” “falling apart” and “crime infested,” mirroring his recent remarks.
The president’s Saturday tirade appears to have been inspired by a “Fox & Friends” segment that aired just an hour before he posted the tweets. The program painted a dark picture of Cummings’ city, claiming that “living conditions at the border are better than most areas in his district, the city lined with abandoned buildings and trash on the streets.”
Trump's attack on Rep. Cummings is a straight recitation of a Fox segment. "Living conditions at the border are better than most areas in his district, the city lined with abandoned building and trash on the streets."Left, Fox & Friends, 6:18 a.m.Right, Trump, 7:14 a.m. pic.twitter.com/w5OniqHgW6
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) July 27, 2019
Everything Donald Trump knows about Rep. Elijah Cummings and his Baltimore congressional district comes from the Fox & Friends segment he just watched. pic.twitter.com/Fy4RmkD5Pz
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) July 27, 2019
In a hearing of his House Oversight and Reform Committee last week, Cummings, a major critic of the Trump administration’s handling of the border crisis, went head to head with acting Homeland Security chief Kevin McAleenan over the treatment of migrants.
Though McAleenan said his agency was doing its “level best” to manage detention facilities, Cummings dismissed the defense, visibly outraged over the squalid and inhumane conditions that have been reported by the media, lawmakers and DHS’ Office of the Inspector General.
“What does that mean?” he asked. “When a child is sitting in their own feces, can’t take a shower? Come on man. What’s that about? None of us would have our children in that position.”
Cummings’ committee is also looking into whether White House officials have broken federal record-keeping laws with the use of messaging accounts and private email, voting on Thursday to approve subpoenas for communications from individuals including the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Cummings has raised additional concerns over the threat of Russian interference in U.S. elections, speaking out alongside Democrats following former special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony on Capitol Hill earlier this week.
“I’m begging the American people to pay attention to what is going on, because if you want to have a democracy intact for your children and your children’s children and for generations yet unborn, we have got to guard this moment,” he said. “This is our watch.”