The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY ZEKE MILLER

This time the tar­get is Rep. Eli­jah Cum­mings and his ma­jor­ity-black dis­trict, which Trump calls a “dis­gust­ing, rat and ro­dent in­fested mess.”

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Sat­ur­day den­i­grated a ma­jor­ity-black dis­trict rep­re­sented by a con­gres­sional neme­sis as a “dis­gust­ing, rat and ro­dent in­fested mess,” broad­en­ing a cam­paign against prom­i­nent crit­ics of his ad­min­is­tra­tion that has ex­ac­er­bated racial ten­sions.

Trump lashed out in tweets against Rep. Eli­jah Cum­mings, the pow­er­ful House Over­sight Com­mit­tee chair­man, claim­ing his Bal­ti­more-area dis­trict is “con­sid­ered the worst run and most dan­ger­ous any­where in the United States.”

It was the pres­i­dent’s lat­est as­sault on a prom­i­nent law­maker, and the peo­ple he rep­re­sents, two weeks af­ter he sparked na­tion­wide con­tro­versy with racist tweets di­rected at four con­gress­women of color.

His com­ments against Cum­mings, who leads mul­ti­ple in­ves­ti­ga­tions of the pres­i­dent’s gov­ern­men­tal deal­ings, drew swift con­dem­na­tion from Democrats, in­clud­ing would-be pres­i­den­tial ri­vals.

Trump called Cum­mings a “bru­tal bully” af­ter his pub­lic tongue­lash­ing of top Home­land Se­cu­rity of­fi­cials over con­di­tions for mi­grants de­tained along the south­ern bor­der.

“As proven last week dur­ing a Con­gres­sional tour, the Bor­der is clean, ef­fi­cient & well run, just very crowded,” Trump tweeted. “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.”

Cum­mings replied di­rectly to Trump on Twit­ter, say­ing, “Mr. Pres­i­dent, I go home to my dis­trict daily. Each morn­ing, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neigh­bors. It is my constituti­onal duty to con­duct over­sight of the Ex­ec­u­tive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my con­stituents.”

Cum­mings has also drawn the pres­i­dent’s ire for in­ves­ti­ga­tions touch­ing on his fam­ily mem­bers serv­ing in the White House. On Thurs­day his com­mit­tee voted along party lines to au­tho­rize sub­poe­nas for per­sonal emails and texts used for of­fi­cial busi­ness by top White House aides, in­clud­ing Ivanka Trump and her hus­band, Jared Kush­ner.

The lat­est com­ments come as Trump has placed racial an­i­mus at the cen­ter of his re­elec­tion cam­paign, as he be­lieves his in­flam­ma­tory rhetoric will strengthen his sup­port among the white work­ing class and at­tract a new group of dis­af­fected vot­ers who fear cul­tural changes across Amer­ica.

Cum­mings’ dis­trict is about 55% black and in­cludes a large por­tion of Bal­ti­more. It is home to the na­tional head­quar­ters of the NAACP and Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity and Johns Hop­kins Hos­pi­tal.

The city has strug­gled with vi­o­lent crime, with more than 300 homi­cides for four years in a row. It has crum­bling in­fra­struc­ture and a po­lice de­part­ment un­der fed­eral over­sight.

Cum­mings dis­trict also ex­tends into Mary­land’s Bal­ti­more and Howard coun­ties.

Trump’s at­tack on Cum­mings was rem­i­nis­cent of one he launched a week be­fore his in­au­gu­ra­tion on civil rights leg­end John Lewis, a Demo­cratic con­gress­man from Ge­or­gia who ques­tioned the le­git­i­macy of his 2016 elec­tion.

And ear­lier this month, the pres­i­dent drew bi­par­ti­san con­dem­na­tion fol­low­ing his call for four Demo­cratic con­gress­women of color to get out of the U.S. “right now,” say­ing if the lawmakers “hate our coun­try,” they can go back to their “bro­ken and crime-in­fested” coun­tries.

His com­ments were di­rected at Reps. Il­han Omar of Min­nesota, Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Press­ley of Mas­sachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michi­gan.

All are Amer­i­can cit­i­zens and three of the four were born in the U.S. The Demo­cratic-led U.S. House voted largely along party lines to con­demn his “racist com­ments.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi de­fended Cum­mings on Sat­ur­day as “a cham­pion in the Congress and the coun­try for civil rights and eco­nomic jus­tice, a beloved leader in Bal­ti­more, and deeply val­ued col­league.” She added. “We all re­ject racist at­tacks against him and sup­port his stead­fast lead­er­ship.”


U.S. Rep. Eli­jah Cum­mings, D-Md., chairs the pow­er­ful House Over­sight and Re­form Com­mit­tee. On Thurs­day his com­mit­tee au­tho­rized sub­poe­nas for per­sonal emails and texts used for of­fi­cial busi­ness by top White House aides, in­clud­ing Ivanka Trump and Jared Kush­ner.

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