Donald Trump dismissed charges of racism over his charged attacks on black, Baltimore Democrat Elijah Cummings on Tuesday, saying: ‘Everybody is called a racist now.’
The president used an interview with C-Span to brush aside accusations he is a racist, arguing, ‘The word is so overused, it’s a disgrace.’
‘I think the word has really gone down a long way, because everybody is called a racist now,’ he told the broadcaster. ‘I can tell you I’m the least racist person in the world, as far as I’m concerned.’
He added, ‘They use it almost when they run out of things to criticize you, they say “He’s a racist, he’s a racist.” ‘
Trump also claimed that ‘her own party called Nancy Pelosi a racist two weeks ago’ – a reference to Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s claims that the House speaker’s attacks on her and her ‘squad’ were tied their being people of color.
The charges of racism against Trump began with his tweet that Hispanic-American Ocasio-Cortez and her three allies – Somali-born Ilhan Omar; African-American Ayanna Pressley; and Palestinian-American Rashida Talib – should ‘go back’ to the ‘totally broken and crime infested places from which came.’
Dismissal: Trump said of the charge of racism: ‘They use it almost when they run out of things to criticize you, they say “He’s a racist, he’s a racist.”‘
Democratic anger: Trump claimed Nancy Pelosi – seen in Ghana on a Congressional visit Tuesday – had been accused of racism as he fought off accusations he is a racist on his fourth day of attacks on Elijah Cummings, the Baltimore Democrat who chairs the House Oversight committee
Trump threw fuel on the fire on Saturday by beginning four days of attacks on Cummings, chair of the House Oversight Committee, which he continued on Tuesday, claiming that residents of Baltimore are lighting up the White House switchboard to thank him for saying the city is a ‘living hell.’
Speaking to C-Span Tuesday, Trump continued his claim that he has done more for African-Americans than previous presidents, citing criminal justice reform and his opportunity zones initiatives and lowest historical unemployment levels for African-Americans.
He claimed it was ‘fake news’ failing to credit him for these achievements that were fueling claims he was racist.
Shortly before the interview aired, a Quinnipiac poll said that 51 percent of voters believed him to be a racist, compared to 45 percent
Trump said earlier in the day that blacks who live in the city have been calling the White House to say he was right about the city he claimed is ‘filthy dirty,’ ‘infested,’ and ‘so horrible,’ because corrupt politicians have been mishandling their tax money.
He claimed them that the city’s money has been ‘stolen and wasted by people like Elijah Cummings’ before declaring that his assault on the black congressman is not related to the color of his skin.
‘I am the least racist person there is anywhere in the world,’ he said on the South Lawn of the White House as he departed.
Trump said MSNBC host and activist Al Sharpton, who has claimed that Trump has a ‘particular venom’ for persons of color, is the one with racial blinders on.
‘Now he’s a racist. He’s a racist!’ the president told reporters on the South Lawn.
Sharpton made the remarks at a press conference Monday in Baltimore – a city that Trump say he’ll go to ‘at the right time’ as he prepared to leave the White House for West Virginia.
The president said he’d liked to see Cummings bring the Capitol Hill committee he chairs to Baltimore for a field trip.
‘He should take his oversight committee, bring them down to Baltimore and study billions stolen,’ the president charged, as he dug into the Democrat.
Polling suggests the attacks could hurt Trump with suburban voters – and especially women – whom he may need to win next year. Trump in recent days, however, has expressed to advisers on his reelection team that he believes his broadsides against the minority Democrats will help excite his core supporters.
‘I think I’m helping myself because I’m pointing out the tremendous corruption that’s taking place in Baltimore and other Democratic run cities,’ he said Tuesday, as he continued to hammer his criticism.
He added, ‘Those people are living in hell in Baltimore.’ He said he was open to some kind of unspecified federal involvement. ‘If they ask me,’ he said, ‘We will get involved.’
Later, as he came back to the White House from West Virginia, the president repeated his earlier remarks and laced into Cummings for his attack on
‘Elijah Cummings it was a horrible thing the way he spoke to the head of Homeland Security the other day. These people are working very hard. They’re getting no support from the Democrats,’ he claimed.
Asked if he has a strategy when attacking Cummings, he said, ‘All it is is I’m pointing out facts. The most unsafe city in the country – in our country – is Baltimore. It receives billions of dollars.’
‘All of this money goes there and take a look at it, I don’t have to describe it. Take a look at it. So there’s no strategy, it’s very simple. And Elijah Cummings is in charge of it. And he ought ought to take his House Oversight Committee and he ought to park them in Baltimore and find out what happen to $15 billion and a lot of other money.’
Trump suggested that Cummings – a longtime lawmakers from Maryland – is directly responsible for the community’s problems.
‘No. Baltimore has been very badly mishandled for many years. As you know, Congressman Cummings has been there for a long time. He’s had a very iron hand on it,’ he said. ‘It’s a corrupt city; there’s no question about it. All you have to do is look at the facts.’
He claimed, ‘The government has pumped in, over the years, billions and billions of dollars to no avail — to absolutely no avail.’
‘It’s been misspent. It’s been missing. It’s been stolen with a lot of corrupt government. And as you know, Cummings has been in charge,’ he claimed of the congressman who has no role in the city’s management efforts.
Trump offered his Opportunity Zones, criminal justice reform and economic policies as examples of the steps he’s taken to aide African Americans living in the area.
‘But they’re so happy that I pointed out the corrupt politics of Baltimore. It’s filthy dirty. It’s so horrible. And they are happy as hell,’ he said.
The vice president was also traveling on Tuesday, to a separate event in Ohio.
‘Well, look, in the campaign in 2016, President Trump said memorably that our commitment was we — he was going to be a President, ours was going to be an administration, for all Americans. And I couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve been able to do for the African American community in this country,’ he said.
Mike Pence also brought up black unemployment, the billions of dollars the administration is investing in troubled neighborhoods and bipartisan legislation Trump signed to lower the incarceration rate.
‘That being said, President Trump is someone who — you know, he calls it like he sees it. And to have Congressman Elijah Cummings berating Department of Homeland Security personnel at committees and denouncing our Border Patrol agents — making accusations that I know are not based in fact, while at the same time people in his city are struggling in neighborhoods with abject poverty — is something that the President was just going to call out.
Defending Trump on Tuesday in Ohio, Vice President Mike Pence said: ‘President Trump is someone who — you know, he calls it like he sees it’
‘And he will continue to do that not just with regard to Baltimore, but anywhere,’ he added. ‘Part of that, President Trump believes, is being able to say when things are not what they should be, to call on local leadership, to call on state leadership, to say, “You have to do better.” ‘
Pence said, ‘That’s what animated his comments about Baltimore.’
Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece, Alveda King, also defended Trump in a television appearance on Tuesday and in remarks to reporters on Monday.
Outside the White House after a meeting there with inner city pastors that an attendee said was on the agenda before the president’s comments about Baltimore and crime, she said, ‘The president is concerned about the whole nation. About everybody in the nation.
‘So I want us to remember, that we’ve been designed to be brothers and sisters. One member of the human race. Not separate races. The same blood,’ she added.
King told reporters after the closed-door event that Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson were once friends of Trump’s and they’d only recently changed their stripes.
‘And at one time in their lives, they highly regarded the president. And, so I’m thinking about a scripture: If it had been my enemy, I could have understood, I could have known what to do, but you were my friends and my brothers,’ she said. ‘So these are his brothers.’
Alveda King, second from right, niece of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. together with other religious leaders, from left, Rev. Bill Owens, Rev. Dean Nelson and Bishop Harry Jackson, speaks to reporters following a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House
King said she had, then tweeted, an old photo of Trump and the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton
King did not say whether she was personally troubled by Trump’s comments that a majority-black district in Maryland that’s represented by African-American Congressman Elijah Cummings were inappropriate.
Instead, she said in brief remarks, ‘Well you know, America is troubled. And if we say we’re color-blind, we need to put on our glasses.’
‘We can see. We can see a troubled America, but we can see a blessed America. The employment rates are up in every community, including the black community,’ she said. ‘The Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) under this president are being blessed. The babies in the womb, the sick and poor and elderly are being blessed.’
King added,’We have an opportunity to continue to be blessed, and we have a president’s whose listening. And I was glad to pray with him today. Now that’s it.’
Bill Owens, the founder and President of the Coalition of African American Pastors, picked up where King left off after she walked away, denying that Trump is a racist and arguing that the president has worked to improve conditions in African-American communities.
‘I find it hard to believe,’ he said of the charges against Trump.
He said that Trump can ‘of course’ do more and should go to Baltimore himself.
‘I think he should. It would be good,’ he told DailyMail.com.
He would not delve into Trump’s comments about Cummings’ district, including a claim that it is infested.
‘Well, those are his words. I don’t want to second-guess what he says, because I hear a lot of things. I see also people pandering to black people, to get them on board with some of their agenda,’ he said during the question and answer session.
Trump had claimed earlier that morning in new tweets on the subject that he’d be happy to help leaders of the urban area clean the city up, if they requested his assistance.
‘The fact is, Baltimore can be brought back, maybe even to new heights of success and glory, but not with King Elijah and that crew. When the leaders of Baltimore want to see the City rise again, I am in a very beautiful oval shaped office waiting for your call! he tweeted.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan later called Trump’s comments ‘outrageous and inappropriate’ and asked what Trump is doing about the city’s problems.
Trump further claimed that he’d be happy to assist leaders of the urban area clean the city up, if they requested his assistance
Trump has also opened up on activist and MSNBC host Sharpton in Monday morning tweets, in which he also claimed that the Democratic congressman is responsible for crime in Baltimore.
‘Baltimore, under the leadership of Elijah Cummings, has the worst Crime Statistics in the Nation. 25 years of all talk, no action! So tired of listening to the same old Bull…Next, Reverend Al will show up to complain & protest. Nothing will get done for the people in need. Sad!’ he wrote.
He added: ‘If the Democrats are going to defend the Radical Left ‘Squad’ and King Elijah’s Baltimore Fail, it will be a long road to 2020. The good news for the Dems is that they have the Fake News Media in their pocket!’
Trump charged Sharpton with hating ‘whites & cops’ in an early Monday morning Twitter rant.
Sharpton tweeted that he was on his way to defend Baltimore and the Democratic lawmaker after Trump attacked both, causing the president to fire back at the prominent African American civil rights activist.
‘I have known Al for 25 years. Went to fights with him & Don King, always got along well. He ‘loved Trump!’ He would ask me for favors often. Al is a con man, a troublemaker, always looking for a score. Just doing his thing. Must have intimidated Comcast/NBC. Hates Whites & Cops!,’ the president tweeted.
His attack came shortly before Sharpton hosted a press conference in Baltimore with former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who served as lieutenant governor of Maryland.
‘He attacks everybody. I know Donald Trump. He’s not mature enough to take criticism. He’s like a child,’ Sharpton said at the event.
‘But he has a particular venom for blacks and people of color. He doesn’t refer to any of his other opponents or critics as ‘infested.’ He does not attack their districts. He attacks Nancy Pelosi. He attacks Chuck Schumer. He attacks other whites but never said their districts or states are places no human being wants to live,’ he added.
Donald Trump attacked the Rev. Al Sharpton in an early morning Tweet storm
Sharpton responded to the early morning attack with a tweet of his own, sharing a photo from 2006 featuring him, Trump, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and singer James Brown.
‘Trump at NAN Convention 2006 telling James Brown and Jesse Jackson why he respects my work. Different tune now,’ he wrote.
He later tweeted: ‘Trump says I’m a troublemaker & con man. I do make trouble for bigots. If he really thought I was a con man he would want me in his cabinet.’
And Sharpton told MSNBC Monday morning, ‘I intend to make trouble every time racists and bigots move around in any way shape or form, including the president.’
The two men, both prominent New Yorkers, became acquainted in the 1980s.
Sharpton has grown increasingly critical of Trump throughout his presidency and slammed Trump’s attacks on the ‘squad’ – four minority lawmakers Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib – as ‘racist.’
Al Sharpton said a Baltimore press conference Monday that Trump has a ‘particular venom for blacks and people of color’
Sharpton and Trump were friends in the 1980s but their friendship ended when Trump embraced the ‘birther’ controversy surrounding then-President Obama
In response to claims his comments were racist, Trump tweeted he was just ‘stating plainly what most people already know’
He said Cummings needs to focus on ‘fixing the mess’ in Baltimore instead of seeking impeachment investigations on the House Oversight Committee or criticizing the conditions at the border
Trump first launched his Twitter attack on Cummings on Saturday after the Oversight Committee chairman criticized conditions at the Southern border.
The outraged president defended the border detention centers as ‘clean, efficient and well run, just very crowded’, and then claimed the facilities are superior to Cummings’ own district in Maryland.
‘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,’ Trump tweeted Saturday.
‘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,’ Trump wondered in another tweet. ‘No human being would want to live there. Where is all this money going? How much is stolen? Investigate this corrupt mess immediately!’
Critics said Trump was taking a dig at Baltimore residents, who are more than 60 per cent black and African American, and suggesting they were not humans.
Cummings last responded to Trump’s insults on Sunday 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,’ he said.