During his racist tirades last week, Donald Trump spent much of his time attacking Congressman Elijah Cummings, who represents much of Baltimore and adjoining majority-black precincts in Maryland’s Baltimore County.
Cummings chairs the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform, which is conducting a dragnet of investigations into the Trump administration and has issued subpoenas for the president’s financial accounting documents, which would shed light on the tax returns Trump has buried like Jimmy Hoffa under 20 feet of concrete. Trump is furious and has not complied with the subpoenas.
His attacks on Elijah Cummings are increasingly concerned with the House Oversight Committee’s investigations
In his tirade Trump called Cummings’ district “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.”
Many neighborhoods in east and west Baltimore are almost uninhabitable slums, and no one can paint a rosy picture of them. Anyone who saw episodes of the prize-winning TV series, “The Wire,” between 2002 and 2008 has horrible pictures of city streets and neighborhoods burned into their minds: east and west Baltimore, Dundalk-cityside, Fairfield, Monument Street. I was a reporter in Baltimore for seven years, and I walked every section of its streets.
Germophobic that he says he is, Trump has never walked those streets. He may have formed his opinions about Baltimore by listening to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is a slumlord there. Kushner’s real estate company has been criticized for years for the same kind of disrepair and neglect of its housing projects that the Trumpster tweeted about.
Despite his role as a senior White House adviser to his father-in-law, Kushner maintains ownership of a dozen or more rundown housing projects in Baltimore and Baltimore County next door. He’s had more than 200 building code violations for the projects going back to 2017, during his first year in the White House. The projects house up to 20,000 people, many of whom are African American.
Although none of the housing projects is directly within Elijah Cummings’ district, some of the buildings are very close by, close enough to share the same neighborhood zip codes.
Kushner says his properties are okay, but Baltimore County’s former chief executive, Kevin Kamenetz, points out that Kushner’s realty company made repairs to them “only after the county threatened to withhold federal rent payments or issue fines. And in nine instances, we had to carry through with threatened sanctions. We expect all landlords to comply with the code requirements that protect the health and safety of their tenants, even if the landlord’s father-in-law is president of the United States.”
I presume Trump knew this when he lashed out at Cummings in his tweets, attacking the congressman and charging that he’d done a poor job at representing his district.
Cummings responded, saying: “Mr. President, I go home to my district daily. Each morning, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neighbors. It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents.”
The president’s attack came after Cummings’ committee voted to subpoena text messages and personal emails from White House officials, including the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner, the slumlord.
From the first, Trump has made Kushner his “can do guy”: He’s responsible for negotiating peace in the Middle East. How’s that working out? He’s responsible for solving the opioid epidemic. How’s that working out? He’s responsible for Trump’s diplomacy with Mexico. How’s that working out? He’s responsible for Trump’s diplomacy with China. How’s that working out? He’s responsible for the government’s care for veterans. How’s that working out? He’s responsible for reforming the criminal justice system. How’s that working out?
He’s responsible for reforming the entire government and turning it into a business. We know how that’s working out.
He’s responsible for the thousands of dirty and rat-infested apartments around Baltimore.
We know how that’s working out too.