President Trump on Tuesday defended himself against accusations that his attacks on Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and the city of Baltimore were motivated by racism.
On Saturday, the president called Cummings’s Baltimore district “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.”
“I am the least racist person there is anywhere in the world,” Trump told reporters Tuesday on the South Lawn of the White House.
“Baltimore has been very badly mishandled for many years,” the president said. “Congressman Cummings has been there for a long time. ... It’s a corrupt city, there’s no question about it. ... The government has pumped in over the years billions and billions of dollars to no avail. Baltimore is an example of what corrupt government leads to.”
Trump claimed that federal aid to the city has been “stolen and wasted by people like Elijah Cummings.” He cited no evidence. Baltimore’s former mayor, Catherine Pugh, resigned in May amid allegations of graft, but Cummings has not been mentioned in connection with that or any other investigation.
Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, had been critical of the Trump administration’s treatment of migrant children at the U.S. southern border. The panel also recently voted to give Cummings the power to subpoena communications between Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and son-in-law.
“I think Rep. Cummings should take his Oversight Committee and start doing oversight on Baltimore,” Trump said.
The president boasted repeatedly about record-low unemployment figures for African-Americans, the continuation of a trend that began during President Barack Obama’s administration.
The president also suggested his attack on Baltimore is helping him politically in his reelection bid.
“I think I’m helping myself because I’m pointing out the tremendous corruption that’s taken place in Baltimore and other Democratic-run cities,” Trump said.
Trump said the White House has received phone calls from residents of Baltimore and other cities “thanking me for getting involved.”
“Those people are living in hell in Baltimore,” the president said. “They’re largely African-American. ... And they really appreciate what I’m doing, and they’ve let me know it.”
“The African-American community is so thankful,” Trump added. “They’ve called me and they said, ‘Finally somebody is telling the truth.’”
The White House provided no details on the calls the president said he has received.
Read more from Yahoo News: