Trump: 'There's no strategy' in attacks on Cummings

President Trump on Tuesday said his ongoing barrage of attacks on Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsFormer NAACP president to run for Cummings's House seat Elijah Cummings's widow 'thinking carefully' about running for his old seat Trump's criminal justice reform record fraught with contradiction MORE (D-Md.) and the city of Baltimore are not part of a larger political strategy, telling reporters he's "pointing out facts" in repeatedly criticizing the city's conditions.

"There’s no strategy. I have no strategy. There’s zero strategy," Trump said upon returning to the White House from a trip to Jamestown, Va.

ADVERTISEMENT

"All it is is I’m pointing out facts," he added. "The most unsafe city in our country is Baltimore."

He repeated his assertion that Cummings, who represents parts of Baltimore, should use his power as House Oversight and Reform Committee chairman to investigate the city's use of federal funds.

Asked why he has focused his rage on Cummings instead of local leaders over the plight of Baltimore, Trump initially denied he was angry but later chastised the lawmaker for his fierce criticism of conditions at the southern border.

"I’m just telling you the facts," Trump said. "I’m not angry at anybody. I’m just saying Elijah Cummings has been there for 26 years. ... He’s seen these mayors get thrown out, thrown out, thrown out. They're all friends of his."

While some allies have argued Trump is making a case to black voters and might view stoking racial tensions as politically advantageous, the president's comments on Tuesday suggest he was merely lashing out at a vocal critic.

The president has waged a days-long onslaught of criticism directed at Cummings and the city of Baltimore. He has denigrated the city as a "very dangerous & filthy place" where "no human being would want to live" and claimed Cummings is racist.

The comments have drawn widespread backlash among Democrats, some of whom have decried Trump's attacks on their colleague as racist. 

The president asserted again on Tuesday afternoon that "many" African Americans had called to thank him for bringing attention to Baltimore, but he did not elaborate further.

He also rejected the findings of a new Quinnipiac University poll that found 80 percent of black voters believe Trump is racist, blaming "the fake news" for failing to properly report what he's done for African Americans.

"If the news reported it properly of all of the things I’ve done for African Americans ... I think I’d do very well with the African Americans," Trump said. "And I think I'm doing very well right now."

The president and his allies regularly cite low unemployment rates and criminal justice reform as accomplishments benefiting minority communities.