Trump attacks black congressman for second day in a row amid growing anger over racist use of 'infested'

Chris Riotta

Donald Trump has attacked a senior Democratic congressman of colour for the second day in a row, after sparking backlash over claims Elijah Cummings represented a “rodent infested” district in tweets widely viewed as racist.

The president continued his criticism of the Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings on Sunday after tweeting that he “does NOTHING for his very poor, very dangerous and very badly run district” a day prior.

He also attacked Nancy Pelosi and her San Francisco district on Sunday morning, while insinuating it was the House speaker with racial issues rather than the president himself, writing.

It came amid mounting criticism of his attacks against a growing list of minority politicians. Many people noted how the president has often used the term “infested” to describe cities and entire countries with large black populations, including CNN anchor Victor Blackwell, who delivered a tearful defence of his hometown of Baltimore in response to the president’s attacks.

“There are challenges, no doubt, but people are proud of their community,” he said, speaking of Mr Cummings’ hometown and the district he grew up in. “I don’t want to sound self-righteous, but people get up and go to work there. They care for their families there. They love their children who pledge allegiance to the flag just like people who live in districts of congressmen who support you, sir. They are Americans too.”

The president’s incendiary tweets were just the latest in a weeks-long series of insults he has used against minority members of Congress.

Mr Trump used an old, racist trope against freshmen Democrats Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar just last week when he said to “go back” to their countries — despite all of them being US citizens and only one having been born outside of the country.

This weekend, it was Mr Cummings turn. The president shared videos posted by other Twitter users alleging to show run-down portions of the congressman’s district, adding tweets that read, “why don’t you focus on your district?!” and “Cummings has done nothing but milk Baltimore dry”.

Mr Trump said Mr Cummings was a “brutal bully shouting and screaming at the great men & women of Border Patrol about conditions at the Southern Border, when actually his Baltimore district is FAR WORSE and more dangerous".

The criticism drew sharp, immediate backlash nationwide and on Capitol Hill, where Ms Pelosi described Mr Cummings as “a beloved leader in Baltimore” and a “deeply valued colleague”.

“We all reject racist attacks against [Mr Cummings] and support his steadfast leadership,” she wrote, adding the hashtag #ElijahCummingsIsAPatriot.

Mr Trump, who was reportedly golfing on Sunday, also attacked Democrats over former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s public testimony last week, writing: “The Democrats are still doing the Russians dirty work as they continue to push the fake crime”.

The former special counsel described in detail the extent of Russian interference in the 2016 election, adding that the Kremlin was continuing its operations “as we sit here” and that Mr Trump was not cleared of obstruction of justice and other potentially criminal wrongdoings in the nearly 448-page report.