Rep. Elijah Cummings said President Trump’s “go back” comments remind him of racist hecklers from the 1960s.
On ABC’s “This Week,” the chairman of the House Oversight committee said Mr. Trump’s comments about Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley took him back to his younger days when he was trying to integrate a neighborhood pool in Baltimore.
“As we did march towards that pool…I was beaten and all kinds of rocks and bottles thrown at me,” he said. “I heard the same kinds of chants. Go home. You don’t belong here. And they called us the n-word over and over again.”
“When Trump does these things — when the president does these things — it brings up the same feelings I had 50 years ago,” he added.
Mr. Trump came under fire for tweeting last weekend that the four freshman lawmakers should return to the governments “from which they came” rather than criticize the U.S. He doubled down on his criticism throughout the week and, after he slammed comments Ms. Omar has made, a crowd at his latest rally broke out in chants of “send her back.”
Mr. Cummings, who has served in Congress since 1993, said he’s rarely called anyone a racist, but there’s “no doubt” the president falls in that category.
The Maryland Democrat defended the four congresswomen, several of whom serve on his committee, as “women who love their country.”
While he acknowledged the controversies surrounding the liberal core four — such as Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s comments criticizing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Ms. Omar’s allegedly anti-Semitic comments — can be distracting, Mr. Cummings stuck by his colleagues.
“They’re coming into a body that they’ve never served in before,” he said. “They live and they learn and that’s part of life.”
House Democrats voted to formally condemn the president’s tweets on Tuesday, with four Republicans and newly minted independent Rep. Justin Amash siding with them. They said his comments and line of criticism are stoking racial divisions.
Mercedes Schlapp, a Trump campaign adviser, insisted that the president had disavowed the chants from his supports and then quickly pivoted to slamming the four congresswomen as anti-American.
“They’re fundamentally criticizing the United States when they’re pushing forward polices that are basically anti-Semitic, when they’re attacking our law enforcement,” she said. “When you’re pushing a socialist or a communist agenda and you’re attacking Americans that’s a problem.”