- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 28, 2019

President Trump started another Twitter fight over the weekend by attacking House Democrats over what he says are poorly kept districts, specifically calling out Baltimore and sparking a backlash from opponents who said the criticisms aimed at another black lawmaker are racist.

The president went after House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Elijah E. Cummings on Saturday, calling the Maryland Democrat’s hometown a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”

The next day, Mr. Trump jabbed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the conditions in her San Francisco district after she said his criticism of Mr. Cummings was racist.

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The rash of social media posts follows closely on the heels of a Twitter storm in which Democrats condemned the president as racist for telling some of his sharpest congressional critics, the minority women who make up “The Squad,” to “go back and help fix” corrupt countries “from which they came.”

“There is nothing racist in stating plainly what most people already know, that Elijah Cummings has done a terrible job for the people of his district, and of Baltimore itself. Dems always play the race card when they are unable to win with facts. Shame!” Mr. Trump posted on Sunday.

According to a report this year by USA Today, Baltimore was ranked third in the nation for violent crime and had a 23.1% poverty rate.

Mick Mulvaney, the president’s acting chief of staff, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the president launched the attacks on Mr. Cummings after the chairman misrepresented the situation on the southwestern border.

Mr. Mulvaney said it all started when the Maryland Democrat, during a congressional hearing examining the migrant crisis, claimed children at the border were sitting in their own feces.

“It’s misleadingly wrong,” Mr. Mulvaney told CBS on Sunday, adding that Mr. Cummings‘ rhetoric “breaks down civilized debate.”

The president’s tweets gave 2020 Democratic presidential candidates major talking points.

Sen. Bernard Sanders said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that “our job is to bring people together.” But Mr. Sanders compared Baltimore to a “Third World country” in a 2015 interview that resurfaced after the president’s tweets.

According to an article posted on Dec. 8, 2015, Mr. Sanders toured a West Baltimore neighborhood and spoke to reporters after the arrest of Freddie Gray, a black man who died while in law enforcement custody.

“Anyone who took the walk that we took around this neighborhood would not think you’re in a wealthy nation,” Mr. Sanders said, according to The Baltimore Sun. “You would think that you were in a Third World country.”

A spokesperson for Mr. Sanders did not immediately respond to a request for comment about what changed his opinion of the city’s conditions.

Even former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, who was forced out of office this year amid an ongoing corruption investigation, has offered blunt-spoken commentary on the city’s tracts of boarded-up, abandoned row houses and trash-strewn alleys.

“Whoa, you can smell the rats,” she exclaimed while touring a dilapidated neighborhood with news crews last year. “Whew, Jesus. Oh, my God, you can smell the dead animals.”

Rep. Will Hurd, a Texas Republican who often criticizes the president, came to Mr. Trump’s defense. He said he didn’t view the president’s tweets against Mr. Cummings as racist.

“I wouldn’t be tweeting this way,” Mr. Hurd told ABC, but he said the Cummings tweets are different from the dust-up with The Squad.

Meanwhile, Sen. Christopher Murphy, Connecticut Democrat, said he was unfollowing the president on Twitter because of the “hate-filled” account.

“I’m unfollowing the President of the United States today on Twitter, because his feed is the most hate-filled, racist, and demeaning of the 200+ I follow, and it regularly ruins my day to read it. So I’m just going to stop. I can’t believe I just typed that,” he said.

Mrs. Pelosi took to Twitter to defend her Maryland colleague.

“We all reject racist attacks against him and support his steadfast leadership,” she said of Mr. Cummings, who has represented Baltimore for more than 20 years.

Mr. Trump said Mrs. Pelosi has been called a racist herself by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat. The left-leaning leader of The Squad denies the accusation.

“Someone please explain to Nancy Pelosi, who was recently called racist by those in her own party,” the president tweeted, “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.”

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez earlier this month said Mrs. Pelosi has repeatedly called out The Squad’s four freshmen congresswomen of color, but she denied to reporters that she was suggesting the speaker was being racist.

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