Washington: President Donald Trump hit out at a prominent African-American lawmaker saying he should concentrate on cleaning up his “disgusting, rat and rodent-infested” Baltimore district rather than criticizing the work of U.S. immigration officers.
Countering the latest charges that he is racist and promoting a “hate agenda” to win reelection, he took aim at Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings.
Cummings is a high-profile critic of Trump administration whose district covers much of the majority-black city of Baltimore, Maryland, whose murder rate makes it one of the most violent cities in the country.
According to agency and newspaper reports after calling Cummings’s district a “rat and rodent-infested mess” where no one would choose to live, Trump insisted that he was just telling things as they are.
“There is nothing wrong with bringing out the very obvious fact that Congressman Elijah Cummings has done a very poor job for his district and the City of Baltimore,” Trump said, without providing evidence to support his claim.
Later in the day, he reiterated his criticism of the congressman, calling him “racist” and saying, “His radical ‘oversight’ is a joke!” — a reference to Cummings’s leadership of the House Oversight Committee, which has launched investigations into Trump administration policies.
Trump’s diatribes ignited a storm of criticism and came less than two weeks after the House of Representatives condemned Trump for “racist” comments targeting four first-term Democratic congresswomen who are from ethnic minorities.
Baltimore has stood up to Trump’s remarks, which Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young dubbed “completely unacceptable.”
The Baltimore Sun newspaper penned an editorial saying it’s “better to have some vermin living in your neighborhood than to be one,” while people on Twitter supported the city and criticized the president using the hashtags #WeAreBaltimore and #BaltimoreStrong.
In an op-ed piece for The Washington Post 148, African Americans who served under former President Barack Obama pledged their support for the four lawmakers “as well as all those currently under attack by President Trump.”
Obama, who has rarely spoken out since leaving office in 2017, retweeted the piece on Saturday.
“The president is, as he usually is, or often is, disgusting and racist. He makes these charges with no base at all,” said Congressman Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders reiterated his assertion that Trump is a racist: “That is a disgrace and that is why we’re going to defeat this president,” he told CNN.