Trump Attacks Another Minority Member Of Congress With Racist Tropes

The President unleashed another racist attack, this time on Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings.

President Trump unloaded an attack against Congressman Elijah Cummings, who represents Maryland’s 7th Congressional District and is the current Chairman of the House And Reform Oversight Committee that has echos of his racist attacks on Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and three other minority Congresswomen:

WASHINGTON — President Trump lashed out at a leading African-American congressman on Saturday, calling him “a brutal bully” and denouncing his Baltimore-based district as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.”

Mr. Trump singled out Representative Elijah E. Cummings, a Democrat from Maryland and chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee who has been a leading critic of the president. Only two days ago, Mr. Cummings was authorized by his committee to subpoena work-related text and emails on personal accounts by White House officials, including Mr. Trump’s daughter and son-in-law.

Mr. Trump did not mention that in his string of Twitter messages on Saturday, but instead suggested that Mr. Cummings was unfairly attacking Border Patrol agents. Beyond denouncing Mr. Cummings’s majority-black district as a rat-infested mess, he also made a vague charge of corruption by suggesting federal money sent there “is stolen” and demanding an investigation, without offering proof or elaborating on what he meant.

“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,” Mr. Trump wrote. “His district is considered the Worst in the USA.” He went on: “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.”

Mr. Trump’s blasts could revive the debate about his attacks on four first-term Democratic congresswomen of color, whom he angrily declared should “go back” to their home countries, even though three of them were born in the United States and the fourth is also an American citizen.

His use of racist tropes generated enormous anger on the part of Democrats and some Republicans, leading the House to pass a resolution, largely along party lines, condemning his remarks.

(…)

In his Twitter storm on Saturday, the president did not explain one of his most explosive charges, that federal taxpayer money was somehow being stolen, nor did he detail what involvement he was suggesting on Mr. Cummings’s part.

“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,” he wrote. “No human being would want to live there. Where is all this money going? How much is stolen? Investigate this corrupt mess immediately!”

Here are the President’s tweets:

It didn’t take long for Cummings to respond:

Trump’s attacks on Cummings didn’t just come out of the blue. Instead, they appear to be related to the fact that Cummings’ committee has voted to authorize subpoenas directed at a number of people connected to the President both inside and outside the White House, including the President’s daughter and son-in-law. Additionally, as Matthew Gertz noted on Twitter, Trump’s attack came not long after a segment on Fox & Friends that made the allegations against Cummings that were repeated in Trump’s tweets.

For what it’s worth, it is true that the crime rate in Baltimore is high, but that’s hardly Cummings’ fault since he doesn’t run the City of Baltimore. Additionally, even with those problems, Cummings’ district is among the most prosperous majority-minority districts in the country, that Cummungs has managed to win re-election to Congress by wide margins over the years, and that, contrary to Trump’s claims, Cummings spends a considerable amount of time in the district, which is only 40 minutes away from downtown Washington, when not busy with his duties as a Member of Congress.

Nate Silver pointed this out in tweets this morning:

In other words, this is yet another example, of the President blindly lashing out at a perceived enemy with racist tropes that are not based in fact at all.

For example, shortly before he became President Trump launched similar attacks against Congressman John Lewis, the Civil Rights Movement veteran who represents Georgia’s 5th Congressional District. As with Cummings, Trump attacked Lewis with racist tropes contending that his district is “crime infested” and run-down. (You can see Trump’s Twitter attacks on Lewis here, here, here) This came in response to a pre-inauguration comment by Lewis in which the Congressman, who did not attend Trump’s Inauguration, said that he did not consider Trump to be a legitimate President.

Not surprisingly, several of the Democratic candidates for President attacked Trump for his attack on Cummings, as did CNN anchor Victor Blackwell, who was born in Cummings’ district:

As with his attacks on Lewis and “the squad” there doesn’t seem to be any rational explanation for the President’s behavior here other than yet another example of how he resorts to racism and racist tropes whenever it suits him and does so with ease. There really is no other way to explain it.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    Trump calling someone else “a brutal bully”should be greeted with a universal chorus of sardonic horse laughs.

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  2. Gustopher says:

    Trump is going to Trump.

    All of these stories have a certain “old man yells at clouds, clutches nuclear football” quality to them.

  3. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    If Trump is going to Trump, his team should at least implement safe guards so his tweets do not go out without the communications team approval.

    Calling a minority person akin to vermin is out of bounds. Has he not heard of Rwanda?

    The fact that Trump thinks this things is scary. The fact that he tweets them without any filter or guidance from staff is stupifying and extremely unsettling.

  4. Mikey says:

    A lot of the focus has been on Trump’s repeated invocation of the word “infested,” which he repeatedly deploys in reference to places people of color live, but in this particular instance I’m far more disturbed by “No human being would want to live there.”

    @de stijl:

    Calling a minority person akin to vermin is out of bounds. Has he not heard of Rwanda?

    Has Rwanda been on Fox and Friends?

  5. Mister Bluster says:

    Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division; have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.
    It’s time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me.
    For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.
    Donald John Trump

    What a load of crap!

  6. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl: By choosing to focus on the racist tweet du hour, we choose not to focus on … oh, pick your favorite subject. Emoluments? Overcrowded and in humane conditions in the concentration camps on the border? Roving ICE agents demanding papers from brown folk, and then detaining them for weeks even if they have them? Iran? Global Warming? North Korea? Using the military as guards in the concentration camps? Efforts to take away health care for millions? Efforts to take away food stamps from millions? Russia?

    “Trump says racist thing” is barely news at this point.

    “Trump says racist thing” is Trump’s attempt to suck the air out of the room. In this case, it seems like Trump does an unearned victory lap after Mueller’s testimony to set the narrative on that, and then start flinging poo so people respond to that and ignore the House saying “yeah, these are impeachment investigations” to a court.

    Is it deliberate, or just reflexive? I don’t know.

    Old man yells at clouds while clutching nuclear football — maybe the intemperance of what he is yelling at the clouds isn’t the most important part.

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  7. Hal_10000 says:

    See, here’s the thing. Even if you accept that Baltimore has problems — and it does — contrast this against the way he talks about other communities. West Virginia, for example, has problems with poverty, unemployment and opioid addiction. Yet he described it as a great state doing better than ever (note: they’re not; things have gotten worse since Trump was elected). Does this have anything to do with WV being 93% white and having voted for Trump?

    Whether it’s unconscious bias or deliberate stirring of racial resentment, this is Trump’s MO. And it has been for decades.

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  8. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    I get your point, but we can pay attention to and care about multiple things. What the President says publicly is one of those things.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Hal_10000:

    West Virginia, for example, has problems with poverty, unemployment and opioid addiction.

    You left out crime. As one who lives in the heart of Methopotamia, I can attest to the fact that where there is a high incidence of illegal drug usage, there is a high level of crime associated with it.

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  10. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl:

    I get your point, but we can pay attention to and care about multiple things.

    I think we draw different lessons from the past few years. Not sure mine are more valid than yours.

    Perhaps having 50% of the country just disgusted with Trump helps build opposition that leads to success later. We did get the House back in 2018.

  11. Liberal Capitalist says:

    In other words, this is yet another example, of the President blindly lashing out at a perceived enemy with racist tropes that are not based in fact at all.

    You don’t say…

    Has Fox News heard about this? It would be news to them, no doubt.

  12. Kylopod says:

    As someone who has lived in both Baltimore and NYC, I really had to laugh when I heard Trump’s remark referring to B-more as dirty and rat-infested. Of the two cities, from my experience, only one fits that description. Hint: it’s not the city where Trump hasn’t lived.

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  13. Ken_L says:

    Trump’s attacks on Cummings didn’t just come out of the blue.

    They began about 15 minutes after Fox ran a segment attacking Cummings.

  14. John430 says:

    In the first instance, Trump did not once refer to Cummings or the people of his district in a racist comment. Race was not mentioned.
    OTOH: Mataconis conveniently omits Sanders’ comments from 2015 when he referred to Cummings’ district of West Baltimore: “Anyone who took the walk that we took around this neighborhood would not think you’re in a wealthy nation,” Sanders said. “You would think that you were in a Third World country.”
    “But today what we’re talking about is a community in which half of the people don’t have jobs,” he added. “We’re talking about a community in which there are hundreds of buildings that are uninhabitable.”
    That was not the only time Sanders criticized the conditions in Baltimore. In 2016 he tweeted, “Residents of Baltimore’s poorest boroughs have lifespans shorter than people living under dictatorship in North Korea. That is a disgrace.”

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  15. Kylopod says:

    In the first instance, Trump did not once refer to Cummings or the people of his district in a racist comment. Race was not mentioned.

    You’re actually arguing that a statement cannot be described as racist if it does not explicitly mention race?

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  16. Ken_L says:

    Trump did not once refer to Cummings or the people of his district in a racist comment. Race was not mentioned.

    Fair point. He merely called them animals.

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  17. Jax says:

    @John430: So your fallback argument is…what Bernie Sanders said about Baltimore, once upon a time? You know this is a different election, right?

    I promise, I will not feed the troll again on this thread. 😉

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  18. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Baltimore would be an upgrade to where most of Trumps base lives.

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  19. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mister Bluster: Clearly, you haven’t listened to Glenn Beck enough. He’s one of the guys in the forefront of the right’s push to have a reasonable dialogue that brings Americans of all stripes together. The problem? Guys like you (and me, admittedly) who won’t stop hating and trying to destroy America long enough to help start the dialogue by admitting that you are wrong to hate the country.

    If you’d just stop hating Trump and trying to prevent him from building the wall, everything would be fine and we’d be a unified country again. It’s all your fault, ya know!

  20. Teve says:
  21. John430 says:

    @Jax: I’m quite aware, thank you. What rankles me is the sheer hypocrisy of leftists blasting the conservatives for the very same thing they do. But it is OK for them to do and say things because, shut up.

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  22. grumpy realist says:

    @John430: Ah, another case of look-over-there because you don’t have the guts to admit that what Trump said is in fact really really racist. And because you’d rather snicker at the other side than police your own behaviour.

    You getting paid in rubles by any chance?

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  23. mattbernius says:

    @John430:

    What rankles me is the sheer hypocrisy of leftists blasting the conservatives for the very same thing they do. But it is OK for them to do and say things because, shut up.

    Pro-tip – If all it takes for you to feel empowered to defend/excuse deeply racist statements is a belief that the other side is racist, then you are a shitty human being.

    The left didn’t make you a racist apologist. You always were one.

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  24. Kylopod says:

    @John430:

    What rankles me is the sheer hypocrisy of leftists blasting the conservatives for the very same thing they do.

    Your assumption that it’s the “very same thing,” as well as your sweeping use of the pronoun “they,” as if all on the left (a category which you apply to everyone from Bernie-Bros to the national media) speak in one voice.

    I don’t carry water for Bernie Sanders. I think his comments were hyperbolic and over-the-top. He also has acquired somewhat of a reputation for being racially tone-deaf; there’s a reason he failed to gain any traction among African American voters in the 2016 primaries.

    All that said, there’s a world of difference between what he said and what Trump said. Nobody’s arguing that it’s intrinsically racist to criticize the conditions in Baltimore or anywhere else. The issue is that Trump was using it to attack Rep. Cummings, whose only crime is to dare to serve parts of the Baltimore area, and who certainly didn’t create the problems there. Moreover, Trump’s tirade is laced with the kind of language that has long been used to disparage minorities. As Josh Campbell noted, whenever Trump talks about infestation he’s almost invariably referring to black and brown people.

    Your premise that Trump’s statements can not be considered racist because they never mention race is absurd. If you really believe that, you lack even the most basic understanding of human communication. You’re implying in effect that people never mask their motivations through coded language or insinuations, that statements can only be interpreted on pure surface level. This is especially ridiculous when addressing a taboo and highly charged topic like racism, which itself has a long history of being expressed in a covert manner.

    Of course I don’t think you actually believe that. This allegedly naive stance somehow always seems to crumble away whenever the topic shifts to anti-Semitism. Let’s remember that Trump recently attacked all of the Squad as anti-Semites. Ilhan Omar was criticized by members of both parties—rightly in my view—for using language with a history of being used to insinuate Jewish control of government and dual loyalty, but she certainly never said anything of the sort explicitly. It was on those grounds entirely that Trump and other Republicans have described not only Omar but the entire squad as Jew-haters, despite the fact that not a single one of them has ever claimed to dislike Jews.

    I happen to think some on the left have a blind spot in the other direction, of refusing to acknowledge the existence of veiled anti-Semitism in certain attacks on the Jewish state. To the right, on the other hand, it’s practically the only form of bigotry they ever recognize, and they apply it to pretty much anyone who criticizes the Netanyahu government, just as they call all Trump critics anti-American but never applied the same logic to Obama critics.

    The bottom line is that everyone recognizes it’s possible to be racist or bigoted without openly saying so. We can certainly have a conversation about whether or to what degree terms like racism and anti-Semitism get thrown around carelessly. What is not debatable is that bigots are not always absolutely explicit about their beliefs, and context matters. Stop pretending not to know that.

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  25. mattbernius says:

    @Kylopod:

    I happen to think some on the left have a blind spot in the other direction, of refusing to acknowledge the existence of veiled anti-Semitism in certain attacks on the Jewish state.

    Yup. 100% to this.

    They also have a tendency to miss specific types of racism that typically get veiled by other concerns (i.e. “that busing students from under-performing urban districts into suburban districts could affect the overall quality of classes in the host districts”).

  26. mattbernius says:

    Btw, @John430 perhaps you can explain why Republicans like Michael Steele and Will Hurd have stated that this and other comments are racist? Why do you think they are wrong?

  27. John430 says:

    By CHRIS KALTENBACH
    THE BALTIMORE SUN |
    FEB 26, 2018
    Wherein PBS airs the Rat Show, telling of Baltimore’s rodent epidemic.

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  28. Teve says:
  29. John430 says:

    @mattbernius: The left didn’t make you a racist apologist. You always were one. You can stick that where the sun don’t shine. My lady is Hispanic and I have proudly served my country standing shoulder to shoulder with men of all colors. You guys just love to play the race card, don’t you? Sorry, it doesn’t make up for the lack of solutions. You have nothing to offer.

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  30. matt bernius says:

    @John430:
    Man, you just love to use the “I have a hispanic wife so there’s now way I can be racist card…” Oh, and you had black coworkers… So my mistake you are always right. Go ahead and be a racist apologist… you’ve earned it through marriage and being in the armed forces.

    Again, Will Hurd and Michael Steele sure seem to think this was a racist statement, but neither of them have a hispanic wife, so clearly they are wrong.

    Please, let us know that you don’t think Trump has a racist bone in his body, because *checks notes* your wife isn’t white.

    BTW: I’m sure, since you were so close to your fellow enlistees of color, you’ve asked them for their opinion about what they think of Trump’s record on race. Or do you us your married-to-a-hispanic privilege to lecture them on how Trump has never used race as a divisive issue?

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  31. mattbernius says:

    Btw, John, I never said you are a racist. Only that you do a hell of a lot of denying Trump”s long history of racism…

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  32. Kylopod says:

    @John430: You should know that it is entirely possible for a racist to be romantically involved with someone of another race. The following is a true story from Randall Kennedy’s book N***er: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word:

    One such suit was filed by James H. Spriggs, an African American who worked at the Diamond Auto Glass Company in Forestville, Maryland, as a customer service representative in the 1990s. Spriggs left Diamond because of what he viewed as the company’s inadequate response to misconduct on the part of his supervisor, a white man named Ernest Stickell. According to Spriggs, Stickell, in his presence, constantly referred to African American customers and employees as monkeys and n***ers. Stickell himself was married to a black woman, but according to Spriggs, she, too, was subjected to her husband’s racial vilification. Stickell referred to her as a black bitch and directed racial slurs at her in agitated phone conversations that Spriggs said he could not help but overhear.

    Hopefully you have a healthier relationship than what’s described here. But if you really love her, then it’s inappropriate to use her the way you do, as someone you constantly invoke to prove your nonracist credentials—especially since this is a discussion about Trump’s treatment of blacks, not Hispanics. I’ve known Hispanics who make disparaging remarks about black people. You think there’s no racism in Latin American countries?

    If you want to make a defense of Trump, make it. Don’t use the existence your wife/partner as an argument, because she isn’t.

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  33. mattbernius says:

    @matt bernius:

    Again, Will Hurd and Michael Steele sure seem to think this was a racist statement, but neither of them have a hispanic wife, so clearly they are wrong.

    Note for transparency, while Will Hurd voted for the resolution of condemnation and said Trump’s past tweets were racist, Hurd said this one is different.

    Michael Steele, on the other hand (along with a number of other Republicans of color), reiterated that the Baltimore comments were deeply racist.

  34. Teve says:

    Donald J. Trump
    @realDonaldTrump

    If racist Elijah Cummings would focus more of his energy on helping the good people of his district, and Baltimore itself, perhaps progress could be made in fixing the mess that he has helped to create over many years of incompetent leadership. His radical “oversight” is a joke!

    3:18 PM · Jul 28, 2019·Twitter for iPhone
    6K
    Retweets

  35. John430 says:

    @Kylopod: I was not defending Trump, only the end-point in the item that he did NOT include race or gender. He just called out Baltimore as a trashy place.
    Cummings can’t deny that point. Same way DeBlasio is fast turning NYC into a garbage pit. Am I racist because I criticized an Italian now?

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  36. Ken_L says:

    He didn’t ‘ just call out Baltimore as a trashy place’. He called out Cummings for letting Baltimore be a trashy place ‘where no human being would want to live’ (i.e. a place inhabited by animals but in a totally non-racist way). It was a moronic accusation, as evidenced by the pathetic stammering nonsensical replies of Trump supporters when pressed to explain how a member of the House is supposed to run his district.

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  37. mattbernius says:

    @John430:
    Trump had attacked Do Blasio before, but I challenge you to find examples about him making the same sort of comments about NYC.

    Why, I ask does he only use this language with people of color and the places he thinks they live in?

    Or are you denying a pattern?

    Seriously John, do you honestly believe that Trump doesn’t play the race card?

  38. Thomas says:

    No one can tell any president what to do unless it effects national security.
    It’s funny, there are trump lovers who call anyone who doesn’t pray to Trump every day is a communist.
    It seems they would prefer to live in Russia , China, or Cuba instead of having the gift of freedom of thought. Those people seem to look more favorable to communist or dictatorial type governments. I’m sticking with freedom of thought.

  39. Thomas says:

    CIA is unable to do that. Trump has the freedom to be completely inappropriate.

  40. Thomas says:

    How do you figure? Just printing the same stories from the beginning showing what a terrible person he is would eliminate the space needed to tell the people about his most recent step towards dictatorship.

  41. An Interested Party says:

    Seriously John, do you honestly believe that Trump doesn’t play the race card?

    This is of the same piece as so many Republicans defending the trash in the White House…they actually believe, or at least are able to say with a straight face, that he is not a racist…how can any non-delusional person make that statement…at this point, he could probably start calling certain people ni@@ers and his toadies would still defend him…

  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @matt bernius: @Kylopod: @John430: All of this effort; only to spend it on a argument taking place in an intellectual vacuum. Sigh…

  43. Guarneri says:

    “Anyone who took the walk that we took around this neighborhood would not think you’re in a wealthy nation,” ………during a visit to the city’s West Baltimore section in December 2015, the Baltimore Sun reported. “You would think that you were in a Third World country.”

    That damned Trump. Oh, wait, that was Bernie Sanders. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Doug didn’t write anything about it.

    Hypocrites gonna hypocrit……..

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  44. al Ameda says:

    I realize this is ad-hominem-ish, but would it be fair for someone to point out, in direct response to Donald Trump, that Jared and his father are long time slumlords in Baltimore?

    Trump punches, and everyone else thinks it’s too just unbecoming and too low to hit back harder, let alone express mild outrage or dis-satisfaction..

  45. Sam Axe says:

    You are aware that Democratic Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said the same thing last year, right?
    She complained about the poor conditions in part of the city, specifically “rats” and “dead animals.
    https://www.dailywire.com/news/49996/democrat-baltimore-mayor-caught-camera-complaining-ryan-saavedra?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=benshapiro

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  46. DrDaveT says:

    @Sam Axe:

    You are aware that Democratic Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said the same thing last year, right?
    She complained about the poor conditions in part of the city, specifically “rats” and “dead animals.

    You are aware that the parts of the city she was talking about are NOT part of Representative Cummings’s 7th District, right? That the parts of the city Trump was explicitly calling out are, in fact, not rat-infested? That (as pointed out by Nate Silver) they are pretty much as affluent and well-educated as we permit majority African-American neighborhoods to be?