After a week of President Donald Trump leveling criticisms at Baltimore and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the congressman said he would welcome the president to come visit.
“I’d love for him to sit down and talk to the doctors at Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland and see the beautiful neighborhoods of our city, and I’d be happy to have him,” Cummings said at a community event Saturday near his Baltimore home.
The Republican president sparked a sharp reaction from many Baltimore residents and political figures when he tweeted July 27 that Baltimore was a “rat and rodent infested mess.” He continued for several days to tweet criticisms of Cummings, calling the Democrat “racist” and claiming falsely that Baltimore’s “corrupt government” had stolen billions from U.S. support sent to cities.
Cummings spoke to reporters about the incident for the first time Saturday at a ribbon-cutting for a community park in the 1900 block of McCullough St., several blocks from his Druid Heights home.
“When I hear criticism by anybody about my city, I think the thing that bothers me most is that we have a situation where there are folks who are stepping on ... the hope of our children,” Cummings said. “I don’t know what I would have done if I had people in high places when I was a little boy telling me what I could do. Instead, I had people telling me what I could do.”
The congressman described residents of his 7th congressional district as a “strong people" and said he did not have time for people who “want to trash our city.”
“You’ll see people [and] organizations that have come to the inner city of Baltimore, like in neighborhoods like this, and did not go around criticizing, but said, ‘How can we help?’” Cummings said.
Cummings went on to invite others to visit Baltimore.
“Come to Baltimore — do not just criticize us,” he said. “Come to Baltimore and I promise you, you will be welcomed. I promise you we will give you every bit of hospitality we’ve got.”
Every time a visitor spends a few dollars in a hotel, Cummings said, “that means somebody in this neighborhood is working. It gives them a job. It gives them hope.”
Trump attacked the majority-black city of Baltimore for nearly a week as part of his tirade against Cummings.
Cummings’ House Committee on Oversight and Reform has voted to subpoena senior White House officials, including Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, for their communications via private email accounts and messaging apps.
Last month, Cummings strongly criticized Kevin McAleenan, head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, for the living conditions of child migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The president’s comments on Baltimore became a punchline in his Thursday campaign rally in Cincinnati. Trump appeared to muse sarcastically that the homicide rate in Baltimore was significantly higher than that of several countries.
And Friday, after Cummings said he scared away an intruder who recently broke into his Baltimore home, Trump alluded to the incident in tweeting, “Really bad news! The Baltimore house of Elijah Cummings was robbed. Too bad!”
Cummings said Saturday that he saw a man trying to break into his home early on July 27 and hollered, scaring him away. The would-be intruder didn’t get into the residential portion of Cummings’ home, he said.
Asked what he thought of Trump’s tweet about the incident, the congressman said “I’m not going to go there.”
“I mean, I’m too busy doing the work of my people,” he said. “This is where I live."
Baltimore Sun reporter Luke Broadwater contributed to this report.