Baltimore paper blasts Trump after his attacks on city: 'Better to have a few rats than to be one'

Christopher Wilson
Senior Writer

The Baltimore Sun editorial board lit up President Trump Saturday night for his Twitter tirade against its city and Rep. Elijah Cummings, the powerful Democrat who represents Maryland’s Seventh District.

Cummings, the chair of the House Oversight Committee, has over the last two weeks both authorized subpoenas for senior White House staffers’ communications and ripped into acting Homeland Security chief Kevin McAleenan over the conditions of the government camps for migrants at the southern border.

Trump responded Saturday morning shortly after a Fox News segment showed piles of trash in Baltimore, tweeting: “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. His district is considered the Worst in the USA,” adding, “Cumming [sic] 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.”

Baltimore officials and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Maryland native, rebuked the president’s comments about the district, where 55 percent of residents are African-American, before the Sun criticized Trump at length.

“It’s not hard to see what’s going on here,” wrote the paper. “The congressman has been a thorn in this president’s side, and Mr. Trump sees attacking African American members of Congress as good politics, as it both warms the cockles of the white supremacists who love him and causes so many of the thoughtful people who don’t to scream.”

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Trump has spent most of July embroiled in a feud with four Democratic congresswomen of color, saying that if they have any criticisms of the United States they should leave. The Seventh District of Maryland — which Cummings has represented since 1996 and which the president excoriated via Twitter — is in the United States, a fact the paper mentioned.

“We would above all remind Mr. Trump that the 7th District, Baltimore included, is part of the United States that he is supposedly governing. The White House has far more power to effect change in this city, for good or ill, than any single member of Congress including Mr. Cummings. If there are problems here, rodents included, they are as much his responsibility as anyone’s, perhaps more because he holds the most powerful office in the land.”

The district covers parts of downtown Baltimore and the surrounding suburbs, and includes Johns Hopkins University and the Inner Harbor, a major tourist attraction. According to Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight, it has the second-highest average income of any majority-black district in the country.

This isn’t the first time Trump has attacked a black congressman over the “horrible” and “crime infested” conditions in his district. In an earlier instance, he denounced Rep. John Lewis, whose Georgia district includes much of Atlanta and some of the surrounding suburbs.

“Finally,” concluded the editorial, “while we would not sink to name-calling in the Trumpian manner — or ruefully point out that he failed to spell the congressman’s name correctly (it’s Cummings, not Cumming) — we would tell the most dishonest man to ever occupy the Oval Office, the mocker of war heroes, the gleeful grabber of women’s private parts, the serial bankrupter of businesses, the useful idiot of Vladimir Putin and the guy who insisted there are ‘good people’ among murderous neo-Nazis that he’s still not fooling most Americans into believing he’s even slightly competent in his current post. Or that he possesses a scintilla of integrity. Better to have some vermin living in your neighborhood than to be one.”

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