Cummings Responds to Trump’s Criticism of ‘Rat and Rodent Infested’ Baltimore

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
July 27, 2019 Updated: July 29, 2019

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) has responded to criticism from President Donald Trump over the Maryland congressman’s treatment of border patrol officials during committee hearings and the conditions of the district he represents.

“Mr. President, I go home to my district daily. Each morning, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neighbors,” Cummings, who represents the Maryland 7th Congressional District since 1996, wrote on Twitter. “It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents.”

Instead of addressing Trump’s allegations about the conditions of his district, he targeted the president for prescription drug prices.

“Just yesterday, I held a hearing on the skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs and the financial hardships that families across the nation, and in Baltimore, are facing,” he continued.

Cummings added, “Mr. President, we can address this together. Two years ago, I went to the White House to ask you to endorse my bill to let the government negotiate directly for lower drug prices. You told me then that you supported the legislation and that you would work with me to make it happen. I took you at your word.”

On early July 27, Trump called out Cummings for being a “brutal bully” and “shouting and screaming” at border patrol officials about the conditions at the U.S.-Mexico border during committee hearings.

“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,” Trump said. “His district is considered the Worst in the USA.”

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

“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. No human being would want to live there. Where is all this money going? How much is stolen? Investigate this corrupt mess immediately!” he added

The president’s post came after a segment on Fox News where political commentator and a Republican strategist Kimberly Klacik highlighted the problem of squalid conditions in Baltimore.

“There is a crisis at the border but there is also a crisis at Baltimore,” Klacik said on the program. “And I don’t think many people realize this but Congressman Cummings represents the most dangerous district in America.”

Klacik said she started noticing the terrible conditions some of Cumming’s constituents were living in when she visited the district.

“There’s abandon homes filed with trash, homeless addicts, empty needles that they have used and it’s really right next door. It’s attracting rodents, cockroaches, you name it,” she said.

Klacik also drew attention at the frequency of the crime in the district.

“This is a deadly district, where we had I guess two days ago eight people were shot in less than five hours,” she said.

Patrick Sharkey, a sociologist at New York University, described Baltimore as a place “where there is an urgent need to make sure that neighborhoods do not continue to fall apart and the population doesn’t give up on the city,” reported The Associated Press in a story about there being 343 killings in 2017, bringing the homicide rate to about 56 per 100,000 people, the highest ever.

The number of murders declined to 309 in 2018, with more than half of the victims being shot in the head, reported The Baltimore Sun. As of July 11, there were 171 murders in the city this year, the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police said. There was also an increase in non-fatal shootings.

Klacik also posted videos of the conditions of some of the properties she visited in the district.

Following Trump’s posts, several politicians and media outlets came out to defend Cummings from the criticism.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) were among the Democrats responding to Trump’s missive about the Maryland Congressman.

Cummings is “a champion in the Congress and the country for civil rights and economic justice, a beloved leader in Baltimore, and deeply valued colleague,” Pelosi wrote.

She then labeled Trump’s criticism of Cummings as a “racist attack.”

Similarly, Ocasio-Cortez posted about going before Cummings as a newly elected lawmaker and making her case for being appointed to his committee as her defense for the Congressman.

“He looked right at me & said: ‘I am going to ask you plainly: Are you here to do the work?’ People’s lives are at stake in urgent ways on Oversight. He demanded excellence, & was watching my every word. I said ‘Yes’ &made my best case including why & how I wanted to be on the committee,” the freshman congresswoman wrote on Twitter.

She said Cummings “is a legendary coach who brings the best out of everyone” and “makes the country better.”

The Daily Wire reporter Ryan Saavedra pointed out in a thread on Twitter that CNN ran a story that tried to paint Trump’s posts as a “racial attack on black and brown people” rather than focusing on the issues of the district.

Meanwhile, Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani came to the president’s defense, writing, “How long has Cummings represented this district and done nothing about it? It reminds me of the Dems who represented Harlem for years and became wealthy while Harlem declined? It took a Republican Mayor to turn it around.”

NTD reporter Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.

Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.