Former Virginia deputy AG: Trump's Twitter attacks a 'distraction' from 'substantive' critiques

A former deputy attorney general for Virginia on Monday criticized President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Don Lemon explains handling of segment after Trump criticism NPR reporter after Pompeo clash: Journalists don't interview government officials to score 'political points' Lawyer says Parnas can't attend Senate trial due to ankle bracelet MORE’s attacks on Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBaltimore unveils plaques for courthouse to be named after Elijah Cummings GOP leaders encourage retiring lawmakers to give up committee posts Pelosi taps Virginia Democrat for key post on economic panel MORE (D-Md.) and the city of Baltimore, among other liberal lawmakers and public figures.

Stephen Cobb, who also served in the Obama administration, said that the president uses the broadsides as a “distraction” from “substantive” critiques of his administration, noting that the attacks took place just days after former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay MORE’s marathon testimony before lawmakers.

“I’m not surprised after a week that was focused on a Mueller report that he goes off the deep end on personal attacks,” Cobb told Hill.TV.

“There’s a difference between saying, ‘there’s areas here where we can make improvements and here are my ideas’ as opposed to going on ad hominem ranting,” he added.

Trump sent more than a dozen tweets criticizing Cummings and the city of Baltimore over the weekend.

The president described the country’s 30th largest city as a “very dangerous & fitly place” where "no human being would want to live.”

He also called Cummings — who is black and the son of sharecroppers in South Carolina — a “racist.”

"If racist Elijah Cummings would focus more of his energy on helping the good people of his district, and Baltimore itself, perhaps progress could be made in fixing the mess that he has helped to create over many years of incompetent leadership. His radical 'oversight' is a joke!" Trump tweeted Sunday.

Cummings rejected Trump’s initial wave of insults, saying he is merely exercising his constitutional duty to conduct oversight over the executive branch.

"Mr. President, I go home to my district daily. Each morning, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neighbors," Cummings tweeted. "It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents."

Still, by Monday morning, Trump stepped up these attacks and went on to target Al Sharpton and presidential candidate Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersNew campaign ad goes after Sanders by mentioning heart attack Biden on whether Sanders can unify party as nominee: 'It depends' Steyer rebukes Biden for arguing with supporter he thought was Sanders voter MORE (I-Vt.).

"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," the president tweeted.

Cummings serves as chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which has pursued a number investigations into the Trump administration.

A day after Mueller’s public testimony, the Oversight panel voted to hold Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrGiuliani calls Bolton a 'backstabber' over Ukraine allegations Bolton told Barr he was concerned Trump did favors for autocrats: report DOJ says surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Page lacked evidence MORE and Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossThe Hill's Morning Report - Report of Bolton tell-all manuscript roils Trump defense 'In any other administration': Trump's novel strategy for dealing with scandal Desperate Democrats badmouth economy even as it booms MORE in contempt for defying subpoenas.

Trump’s attacks on Cummings mark the second time he has targeted a minority Democratic lawmaker in less than month. The president earlier in July received backlash for telling four progressive lawmakers — all women of color — to go back to where they come from, even though they are all U.S. citizens and only one was born outside of the country.

—Tess Bonn