President Donald Trump attacked two prominent U.S. lawmakers over the weekend, suggesting their home districts were “failing” and “disgusting.”
His comments were in stark contrast to claims he made in recent weeks, when he criticized New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for supposedly calling America “garbage.” (She didn’t.)
Trump’s most recent tweets took aim at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who spoke out this weekend after the president made several racist statements about Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings’ majority-black district, which encompasses more than half of Baltimore.
Pelosi spoke out in support of Cummings, whom she called “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,” she tweeted Saturday afternoon.
On Sunday, Trump fired back. “Someone please explain to Nancy Pelosi, who was recently called racist by those in her own party, that 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,” he tweeted.
“Speaking of failing badly,” he added, “has anyone seen what is happening to Nancy Pelosi’s district in San Francisco. It is not even recognizeable [sic] lately. Something must be done before it is too late. The Dems should stop wasting time on the Witch Hunt Hoax and start focusing on our Country!”
Speaking of failing badly, has anyone seen what is happening to Nancy Pelosi’s district in San Francisco. It is not even recognizeable lately. Something must be done before it is too late. The Dems should stop wasting time on the Witch Hunt Hoax and start focusing on our Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2019
Over the weekend, Trump claimed Cummings had been a “brutal bully” to the “great men and women of Border Patrol” over inhumane conditions in detention facilities at the southwest border. “His district is considered the Worst in the USA,” he tweeted. “…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 those comments by tweeting video footage of run-down homes in the district, adding, “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.”
Trump also claimed that Baltimore “ranks last in almost every major category.”
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…. #BlacksForTrump2020 https://t.co/seNVESZUht
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 27, 2019
While Baltimore has faced a number of serious issues over the years — a ProPublica story in March, for instance, outlined the rising criminal justice problems, over-policing, and poverty plaguing the highly segregated portions of west Baltimore — many have since criticized Trump’s decision to overlook the city’s positive aspects, noting that he had the ability to help address the root causes of it’s more extreme problems.
“We stand ready and willing to work with the President, if he is willing to go beyond tweets, to help us solve some of the problems that are deep enrooting in Baltimore’s history,” Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott told reporters over the weekend.
The Baltimore Sun editorial board, which has written in the past about the city’s poverty issues, made similar observations on Saturday.
“The White House has far more power to effect change in this city, for good or ill, than any single member of Congress including Mr. Cummings. If there are problems here, rodents included, they are as much his responsibility as anyone’s, perhaps more because he holds the most powerful office in the land,” it wrote.
The board also took issue with Trump’s description of Baltimore as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess,” writing, “It was only surprising that there wasn’t room for a few classic phrases like ‘you people’ or ‘welfare queens’ or ‘crime-ridden ghettos’ or a suggestion that the congressman ‘go back’ to where he came from.”
Trump was heavily criticized earlier in July for attacking four Democratic congresswomen of color, suggesting they “go back” to their home countries and “help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Three of the four lawmakers — who include Reps. Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) — were born in the United States. Omar immigrated here from Somalia as a child.
Trump later defended those statements claiming he was simply tired of the lawmakers’ attacks on the United States. In addition to claiming the four “hate America” and love Al Qaeda, the president falsely suggested that Ocasio-Cortez had previously called the country “garbage.”
“She said ‘garbage.’ That’s worse than ‘deplorable.’ Remember ‘deplorable?’ …She actually said a word that was worse,” he claimed during a recent speech at Turning Point USA’s teen action summit.
Ocasio-Cortez has in fact said no such thing. The comments Trump was referencing were instead from a longer interview the New York lawmaker gave at SXSW in March, where she noted that her policy ideas “sound radical compared to where we are. But where we are is not a good thing. This idea of 10% better from garbage shouldn’t be what we settle for. It feels like moderate is not a stance, it’s just an attitude toward life of like, ‘meh.’”
The irony in Trump’s decision to criticize Ocasio-Cortez for discussing improvements to U.S. policy while panning two major U.S. cities as “disgusting” and vermin-filled has not been lost on some.
“Baltimore is in America. If you’re defending [Trump] by pointing out what you think are flaws of Baltimore, you are trashing America,” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), who attended law school in Baltimore, tweeted Saturday. “America is not just the places you like or look like you. It’s the places you’ve never seen & the people you’ve never met.”