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.
Mr. Cummings’s district is 53 percent African-American, according to the census, and includes Baltimore as well as vast stretches of suburbs. Baltimore has struggled with crime in recent years, recording more murders in 2017 than any other city of at least 500,000 residents, and more even than New York, a vastly larger city.
But Mr. Trump has a history of characterizing black areas or African nations in terms like “filthy.” He disparaged Haiti and African nations in vulgar terms. He has denied that he is racist, citing among other things the low unemployment rates for Hispanics and African-Americans on his watch.
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!”
White House officials did not immediately respond to requests for elaboration.