After several weeks of criticizing Democratic minority members of Congress, President Trump said he was not doing so on the basis of their race, but their policy proposals and their political ideology.
Speaking to a group of reporters outside the White House, Trump contended he was “the least racist person there is anywhere in the world,” despite conflicting claims from Democratic members of Congress, their supporters online, and their allies in mainstream media.
On Tuesday, the president said comments which he has directed to Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and more recently Elijah Cummings were not a part of some strategic campaign.
“There’s no strategy. I have no strategy. There’s zero strategy,” he said of his tweets, USA Today reports.
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) July 30, 2019
On Saturday, Trump described Cummings’ district in Baltimore as “a disgusting, rat and rodent-infested mess.” He said “no human being would want to live there,” claiming it is “far worse and more dangerous” that the immigration crisis at the southern border.
USA Today has more on Trump’s comments to the various members:
First came a tweet July 14 attacking members of the “Squad,” a group of four women lawmakers of color who criticized Trump on various issues. He said they should “go back” where they came from, although all are U.S. citizens.
At a rally July 17 in Greenville, North Carolina, Trump supporters chanted, “Send her back” in reference to Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who came to the USA as a child refugee from Somalia.
This past weekend, Trump expanded his attack to include Cummings, a committee chairman who seeks financial records from Trump and members of his family. Trump said the Maryland congressman “should start doing some oversight on Baltimore.”
In a series of tweets, Trump defended his comments and stated: “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.”
Here’s even more, from Reuters:
Cummings’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump’s latest tweets. In a tweet on Saturday responding to Trump’s initial barrage, Cummings said: “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 is the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, which voted 23-16 along party lines on Thursday to issue subpoenas to White House officials, including Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner as part of a probe into possible violations of government record-keeping laws.
In an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said on Sunday that he understood why Trump’s comments could be perceived as racist but he said the president was speaking hyperbolically.