Trump spends weekend lashing out at Cummings

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSessions accepts 'Fox News Sunday' invitation to debate, Tuberville declines Priest among those police cleared from St. John's Church patio for Trump visit Trump criticizes CNN on split-screen audio of Rose Garden address, protesters clashing with police MORE spent the weekend excoriating Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsKey races to watch in Tuesday's primaries The Postal Service collapse that isn't happening House Democrat reintroduces bill to reduce lobbyist influence MORE (D-Md.), inflaming racial tensions once again by taking aim at a top African American Democratic lawmaker and parts of the majority-black district he represents.

The president on Saturday and Sunday sent more than a dozen tweets assailing Cummings and the city of Baltimore. The weekend started with Trump describing the country's 30th-largest city and surrounding areas as a "very dangerous & filthy place" where "no human being would want to live," and it ended with Trump calling Cummings — the son of sharecroppers in South Carolina — a "racist."

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It marked the second time in three weeks that Trump targeted a prominent minority Democratic lawmaker and in many ways mirrored how his attacks on Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezNew York City issues Monday night curfew amid protests Engel primary challenger drops out, endorses fellow challenger Trump says he will designate antifa a terrorist organization MORE (D-N.Y.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarAmash readying legislation allowing victims to sue officers Democrats call for Congress to take action following death of George Floyd Black Caucus member unveils bill to create commission addressing legacy of slavery MORE (D-Minn.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibPelosi: George Floyd death is 'a crime' Overnight Defense: Pentagon memo warns pandemic could go until summer 2021 | Watchdog finds Taliban violence is high despite US deal | Progressive Dems demand defense cuts Progressives demand defense budget cuts amid coronavirus pandemic MORE (D-Minn.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyDemocrats call for Congress to take action following death of George Floyd Black Caucus member unveils bill to create commission addressing legacy of slavery House Democrats unveil measure to condemn police brutality MORE (D-Mass.) played out.

In targeting Cummings, the president went after a well-respected, 13-term congressman who leads one of the committees leading investigations into his administration.

Trump launched the first of what would be several broadsides against Cummings on Saturday morning. The president may have been agitated by Cummings's resolve to pursue oversight or set off by a Fox News segment that aired Saturday morning that included footage of Cummings's district, which encompasses parts of the city of Baltimore as well as suburban and rural areas.

Trump decried Cummings as a "brutal bully" for his fierce critiques of conditions at the southern border and suggested Baltimore "is FAR WORSE and more dangerous. 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," Trump continued. "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."

With Cummings as chairman, the House Oversight and Reform Committee has voted to hold Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrTrump praises 'domination' of DC protesters Antifa and anarchists have hijacked Floyd protests, but the left won't admit it The Hill's Morning Report - Trump mobilizes military against 'angry mob,' holds controversial photo op MORE and Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossOn The Money: US tops 100,000 coronavirus deaths with no end in sight | How lawmaker ties helped shape Fed chairman's COVID-19 response | Tenants fear mass evictions Ross: Trump considering 'whole menu' of options against China on Hong Kong law OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Government predicts busy hurricane season | Report: BLM says oil and gas operators should set their own royalty rates for public lands drilling | Michigan flooding risks damage to hazardous waste sites: report MORE in contempt for defying subpoenas; heard testimony from former Trump attorney Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenHarris, Jeffries question why Manafort, Cohen released while others remain in prison Rosenstein to testify as part of Graham's Russia investigation probe The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin: More COVID-19 congressional action ahead MORE; held a hearing on conditions at the southern border; and authorized a subpoena for official communications from senior White House advisers Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpTrump: food chain 'almost working perfectly again' Lilly Wachowski claps back at Ivanka Trump and Elon Musk's 'red pill' exchange Trump says he gave officials 'option' to wear masks at Rose Garden event MORE and Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTrump's strategy to stay in office Trump tries to soothe anxious GOP senators Press: King Donald's goal - no checks, no balances MORE.

In a press conference after former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE's testimony, Cummings pledged that he could continue to hold Trump accountable despite resistance from the administration, arguing the future of the government was at stake.

"We refuse to betray generations yet unborn and the American people," Cummings said alongside Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump praises 'domination' of DC protesters Pelosi, Schumer say treatment of protesters outside White House 'dishonors every value that faith teaches us' Democrats call for Congress to take action following death of George Floyd MORE (D-Calif.) and other committee chairmen. "We’re not going to betray them."

"We’re going to do our part to make sure that we have a democracy that’s intact," he added.

Trump, who spent part of his weekend at his Virginia golf club, fired back at Cummings with a barrage of tweets chastising him and the city of Baltimore.

"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 tweeted Saturday morning. "No human being would want to live there."

The president quote-tweeted multiple videos that purported to show abandoned homes in Cummings's district used as dumping grounds for trash. In each case, Trump blamed the congressman for the images.

In one case, he retweeted far-right British commentator Katie Hopkins, who described Baltimore as a "proper sh*thole."

"So sad that Elijah Cummings has been able to do so little for the people of Baltimore," Trump tweeted Saturday. "Statistically, Baltimore ranks last in almost every major category. Cummings has done nothing but milk Baltimore dry, but the public is getting wise to the bad job that he is doing!"

Cummings responded to Trump's initial wave of insults on Saturday morning by rejecting the criticisms and urging the president to work on a bipartisan basis.

"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."

Democrats rallied around Cummings to denounce the tweets as racist and condemn Trump's open disdain for a major U.S. city.

"It's unbelievable that we have a president of the United States who attacks American cities, who attacks Americans, who attacks somebody who is a friend of mine," Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFive things to watch in Tuesday's primaries Nina Turner responds to Cornel West's remarks about George Floyd COVID-19 pandemic will shrink economy by trillion in next decade: CBO MORE (I-Vt.) said Sunday on CNN.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerHouse Democrats unveil measure to condemn police brutality House Democrats call on DOJ to investigate recent killings of unarmed black people  Gun control group rolls out House endorsements MORE (D-N.Y.) called the president's tweet suggesting money was being stolen from Cummings's district "disgusting and racist."

Pelosi rejected Trump's tweets as "racist" and hailed Cummings as "a champion in the Congress and the country for civil rights and economic justice, a beloved leader in Baltimore, and deeply valued colleague."

But Trump and his allies were quick to accuse Democrats of overusing allegations of racism and suggested criticism of Cummings and his district was fair.

Acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick Mulvaney12 things to know today about coronavirus Mulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus The Memo: Trump agenda rolls on amid pandemic MORE said on "Face the Nation" that he understood why some might view the tweets as racist, "but that doesn't mean it's racist."

"The President is pushing back against what he sees as wrong," Mulvaney said. "It's how he's done in the past and he'll continue to do in the future."

Trump was more forceful in his rebuttal to charges of racism.

"There is nothing racist in stating plainly what most people already know, that Elijah Cummings has done a terrible job for the people of his district, and of Baltimore itself," Trump tweeted Sunday. "Dems always play the race card when they are unable to win with facts."

Within an hour, Trump sent a follow-up tweet calling Cummings a racist and deriding his "radical 'oversight'" as "a joke."

The sequence of events played out in nearly identical fashion to the president's attacks on the self-styled "squad" of Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaib and Pressley.

Two weeks ago, Trump set off a firestorm by tweeting that the four minority Democrats should "go back" to their countries and "help fix the totally broken crime infested places from which they came." 

All four are U.S. citizens, and only Omar, a Somali refugee, was not born in the country. The House later voted to condemn Trump's "racist comments," while the president tweeted that he does not have a "racist bone" in his body.

But Trump's attack steadily escalated, accusing the four congresswomen of hating the country. It culminated in incendiary fashion with a rally crowd chanting "send her back" about Omar and with Trump calling the group "a very Racist group of troublemakers who are young, inexperienced, and not very smart."

While Trump made clear he views tying the broader Democratic Party to four of its most progressive lawmakers as politically advantageous, it's less clear how the president will benefit from picking on a well-liked and more moderate representative such as Cummings, who has spoken of his friendship with close Trump ally Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsHow Trump cleared the park around the White House for church photo op Trump visits historic DC church after protesters cleared with tear gas Trump to return to Florida for rescheduled SpaceX launch MORE (R-N.C.).

The president suggested that his support won't suffer for the attacks and that it might even receive a boost. He relied, as he often does, on statistics showing African American unemployment declining under his administration.

In one instance, he closed a tweet with the hashtag #BlacksForTrump2020, and in another, he referenced opportunity zones developed through tax reform legislation passed in 2017.

"Waiting for Nancy and Elijah to say, 'Thank you, Mr. President!'" Trump tweeted Sunday.