“It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents,” Rep. Elijah Cummings wrote back in response. | Susan Walsh/AP Photo
The president said the Democratic lawmaker’s Baltimore district is ‘disgusting’ and where ‘no human being would want to live.’
Updated 07/27/2019 05:55 PM EDT
After a week of positive momentum for his administration — which saw a budget deal passed, a Supreme Court victory for his border wall plan and special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony fail to generate new momentum toward impeachment — President Donald Trump returned to lobbing insults, kicking up another firestorm over his choice of targets.
Trump early Saturday lashed out at Rep. Elijah Cummings, calling the Democratic lawmaker a “brutal bully” on the border issue and criticizing his majority-black Baltimore district as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” and where “no human being would want to live.” Story Continued Below
“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. His district is considered the Worst in the USA……,” Trump tweeted at 7:14 a.m.
The House Oversight and Reform Committee led by Cummings voted Thursday to authorize subpoenas for senior White House officials’ communications via private email accounts and messaging applications.
Cummings responded to the president’s attacks hours later on Twitter.
“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,” Cummings wrote.
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
Cummings also mentioned Friday’s hearing on prescription drug prices, and asked for Trump’s help to address the rising costs.
“You told me then that you supported the legislation and that you would work with me to make it happen. I took you at your word,” the veteran congressman and former Congressional Black Caucus chairman wrote.
Trump’s tweets landed shortly after “Fox and Friends” — one of the president’s favorite cable TV shows — aired a segment with Republican strategist Kimberly Klacik calling Cummings’ district the “most dangerous” in America while showing shots of dilapidated buildings filmed by the strategist.
Asked about Trump’s description of the largest city in Maryland, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s spokesman, Michael Ricci, said, “Baltimore City is truly the very heart of our state, and more attacks between politicians aren’t going to get us anywhere.”
Baltimore Mayor Bernard Young said in a statement that Trump’s tweets were “completely unacceptable.” Young said that Cummings’ is “a patriot and a hero” while the president was a “disappointment to the people of Baltimore, our country, and to the world.”
It’s 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. pic.twitter.com/TJdbST6Md9— Mayor Bernard C. Jack Young (@mayorbcyoung) July 27, 2019
At a hearing last week, the Oversight chairman publicly ripped into Kevin McAleenan, the acting head of Homeland Security, over the conditions of detention facilities for migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Cummings repeatedly shut down McAleenan’s attempts to speak while discussing the crowded centers migrants are being held in.
Cummings read from a court document in which a federal judge found that Homeland Security “did a better job of tracking immigrants’ personal property than their children,” before adding, “I’m talking about human beings. I’m not talking about people that come from, as the president said, shitholes. These are human beings. Human beings. Just trying to live a better life.”
Cummings also asked whether there is an “empathy deficit” at DHS.
Trump continued his tweet Saturday: “….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.”
The president followed up with a call to investigate the Maryland lawmaker: “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. No human being would want to live there. Where is all this money going? How much is stolen? Investigate this corrupt mess immediately!”
Victor Blackwell, host of CNN’s Newsroom, during a segment on Trump’s tweet grew emotional over Trump’s repeated use of the word “infested” to characterize his hometown of Baltimore.
“The president says about Congressman Cummings‘ district that no human would want to live there. You know who did, Mr. President? I did. From the day I was brought home from the hospital to the day I left for college, and a lot of people I care about still do,” Blackwell said through tears.
“He’s insulted thousands of people, many different types of people but when he tweets about infestation, it’s about black and brown people.” Blackwell said.
Trump’s previous use of the word infested came when he told the “Squad” — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts — to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” in a series of tweets.
The tweets caused an uproar in Washington, eliciting blowback from both sides of the aisle, quelling infighting among the House Democrats and leading to the House passing a resolution to condemn the tweets as racist.
Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris, the California senator whose campaign headquarters is located in Baltimore wrote on Twitter that it’s “disgraceful the president has chosen to start his morning disparaging this great American city.”
Baltimore-born House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — the daughter of a former Baltimore mayor — called Trump’s remarks “racist attacks.”
“.@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,” Pelosi wrote on Twitter.
Later that afternoon and after a round of golf at Trump National Golf Club, Trump reiterated his initial attack, retweeting a video filmed by Klacik showing a house surrounded by trash while doubling down on calling Baltimore “very dangerous.”
“Elijah Cummings spends all of his time trying to hurt innocent people through “Oversight.” He does NOTHING for his very poor, very dangerous and very badly run district! Take a look….” Trump wrote.
Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer and a former New York City mayor, came to Trump’s defense on Twitter over the attack.
“How long has Cummings represented this district and done nothing about it? It reminds me of the Dems who represented Harlem for years and became wealthy while Harlem declined? It took a Republican Mayor to turn it around,” Giuliani wrote.
Cummings’ district is 55 percent African American and 35 percent white.
In a separate tweet Friday, Trump demanded an investigation into his own predecessor, former President Barack Obama.
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