Jul 28, 2019

Mulvaney defends Trump's use of "infested" to attack Elijah Cummings

White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney argued on "Fox News Sunday" that President Trump's use of "infested" to attack Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) has "nothing to do with race."

MULVANEY: "Does anyone watching this program dispute the fact or the possibility that if Adam Schiff said the same thing about the border, that the president would be attacking Adam Schiff the exact same way today?"
CHRIS WALLACE: "I don't think he would be talking about his crime-infested, rodent-infested district."
MULVANEY: "He very well could. It has zero to do with the fact that Adam is Jewish and everything to do with the fact that Adam would just be wrong for saying that. This is what the president does. He fights, and he's not wrong to do so."
WALLACE: "You're completely comfortable with him saying that this is a rodent-infested district and no human being would want to live there? You're comfortable with that personally?"
MULVANEY: "Have you seen some of the pictures on the internet? Just this morning from the conditions in Baltimore?"
WALLACE: "You can do that in any inner city in America. And you could argue why doesn't the president do something to stop it?"
MULVANEY: "The richest state in the nation has abject poverty like that. A state, by the way, dominated for generations by Democrats. I think it's fair to have that conversation.

Why it matters: As CNN anchor Victor Blackwell pointed out in an emotional response to Trump's attacks this weekend, Trump has a long record of using the word "infested" to attack places in which the majority of occupants are people of color.

  • On Rep. Elijah Cummings: "Cumming's 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."
  • On Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley: "Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."
  • On Rep. John Lewis: "Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested)"
  • On Africa: "Why are we sending thousands of ill-trained soldiers into Ebola-infested areas of Africa! Bring the plague back to U.S.? Obama is so stupid."
  • On California: "There is a Revolution going on in California. Soooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT of this ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept."

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Trump unleashes attack on Baltimore while criticizing Elijah Cummings

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President Trump attacked Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) on Twitter Saturday morning, calling his congressional district "the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States."

The big picture: This is the second time this month that Trump has attacked a black member of Congress. He earlier told Rep. Ilhan Omar and 3 other congresswomen of color to "go back" to their countries. Trump is also attacking a majority black district when he calls Cummings' district one of the most dangerous places in the U.S.

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Warren: Trump's tweets on Baltimore and Cummings are ugly and racist

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told reporters Saturday that President Trump's tweets about Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and the Baltimore-area district he represents are "ugly and racist."

The big picture: Trump doubled down on his earlier attacks on Cummings and the majority-black Baltimore-area district — which he called a "disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess" — retweeting fellow Republicans, who said "[t]his has nothing to do with race." Warren told Fox News that Trump's tweets were "part of his overall pattern of trying to stir up as much hatred and dissension in America as possible."

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Trump plants racial explosives in the urban-rural divide

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President Trump's onslaught of disparaging tweets calling Baltimore a "disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess" — and characterizing Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings as failing to fix it — extends Trump's streak of vilifying big American cities and adds a racial spin that scores points with parts of his base.

The big picture: Cities, particularly coastal ones, are Democratic strongholds that have been protesting Trump policies like immigration and health care since day one of his administration.

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