This weekend, President Donald Trump launched into a new racist line of attack, and it only continued on Monday morning.
After attacking Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and the cities of Baltimore and San Francisco, Trump turned his sights on Reverend Al Sharpton — who was on his way to Baltimore to condemn Trump’s remarks — while continuing to double down on his smear of the congressman and the city he’s served for decades.
But as despicable as these comments are, it’s also notable what Trump is not saying.
Cummings is not a random target. Not only has Cummings been critical of Trump’s immigration policy, he’s also been pursuing investigations into his administration, including a new round of subpoenas last week. As Media Matters’ Matthew Gertz highlighted, Trump’s tweets were likely directly inspired by a Fox News segment featuring a pro-Trump Republican operative attacking Cummings and Baltimore.
But while Trump is still focused on attacking Cummings, he’s simultaneously avoiding talking about other pressing matters, including several mass shootings that took place on Sunday.
Multiple deaths and injuries were reported in southwest Philadelphia, at a community event in the Brooklyn neighborhood Brownsville, and at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in northern California. An additional shooting at a North Miami Beach synagogue is also being investigated as a possible hate crime.
But Trump has only mentioned the Gilroy shooting, unhelpfully tweeting Sunday night that the “shooter has not yet been apprehended” — this tweet came two and a half hours after the shooter was already dead. And during his remarks at a bill signing Monday morning, he briefly expressed grief about the Gilroy shooting, but ignored the other incidents.
Attacking people of color is red meat for Trump’s base. His attacks on Cummings follow weeks of attacking four Democratic congresswomen of color with racist, false attacks about how they hate the United States and should “go back” to where they came from — even though, of the four, only Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) was born elsewhere. At a recent rally in North Carolina, Trump’s supporters followed his lead and launched into a “Send her back!” chant against Omar.
Trump speaks on:
Al Sharpton: conman
Elijah Cummings: racist
Ilhan Omar: racist
Maxine Waters: low IQ
John Lewis: all talk
black countries: shitholes
black athletes: SOBs
Black tenants: unwelcome
Black workers: lazy
Central Park 5: guilty
Nazis: very fine people
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) July 29, 2019
Monday morning, Trump also subtly admitted to the political motivations of his attacks, lashing out at Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for his previous comments about Baltimore, implying an unfair double standard.
….even to new heights of success and glory, but not with King Elijah and that crew. When the leaders of Baltimore want to see the City rise again, I am in a very beautiful oval shaped office waiting for your call!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2019
Sanders made the comments while he was actually touring a Baltimore neighborhood in 2015. He was specifically promoting his anti-poverty platform, highlighting the high levels of unemployment and uninhabitable buildings while noting the lack of nearby grocery stores. Sanders’ comments were not perceived as racist because they spoke to wanting to improve it for the people who live there, as opposed to Trump outright smearing it as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” and a “very dangerous & filthy place.”
Trump’s latest tirade also comes as support for impeachment surges among House Democrats. Former special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony last week may not have shifted public opinion much, but it did make the clearest case yet that Trump engaged in obstruction of justice and welcomed foreign interference in the 2016 election.
So long as the media is focused on Trump’s latest racist screed, it takes the focus off Mueller’s findings and the court battles the House is pursuing as part of its own investigations into the White House.