The president described Cummings' majority-black district in Baltimore as a "rodent-infested mess," apparently after the representative questioned border officials in his role as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Fox News reported. He was reported yelling at acting Homeland Security chief Kevin McAleenan for saying the department was doing its “level best” when it comes to the humanitarian crisis at the border.
"What does that mean? What does that mean when a child is sitting in their own feces, can't take a shower? Come on man,” he yelled, cited by Fox news.
Trump stood in defence of his border official, saying that detention centres at the border are “clean, efficient and well run, just very crowded” before saying “no human being would want to live” in Cummings’ district.
“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? No human being would want to live there. Where is all this money going? How much is stolen? Investigate this corrupt mess immediately!" – Trump tweeted, calling Cummings a “brutal bully, shouting and screaming at the great men & women of Border Patrol.”
....As proven last week during a Congressional tour, the Border is clean, efficient & well run, just very crowded. 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— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 27, 2019
Trump’s tweets were met with a wave of criticism from Nancy Pelosi, who described Trump’s words as “racist attacks.” She defended Cummings on Saturday as "a champion in the Congress and the country for civil rights and economic justice, a beloved leader in Baltimore, and deeply valued colleague."
“We all reject racist attacks against him and support his steadfast leadership,” Pelosi added.
Cummings also replied directly to Trump on Twitter, saying, "It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents."
Cummings had earlier drawn the president's ire for investigations touching on his family members serving in the White House. On Thursday his committee voted along party lines to authorize subpoenas for personal emails and texts used for official business by top White House aides, including Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner.
Cummings' district population is about 55% black and includes a large portion of Baltimore. It is home to the national headquarters of the NAACP and Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Hospital. The city has struggled with violent crime, with more than 300 homicides for four years in a row. It also has infrastructure problems and a police department under federal oversight.