WASHINGTON D.C. (CBS) — President Trump is not backing off of his salvos against black Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings and Baltimore. On Tuesday, the president told reporters on the White House South Lawn that residents of Baltimore are “living in hell.”
“Those people are living in hell in Baltimore,” Mr. Trump said, continuing his rant against the city just to the north. “They’re largely African-American … and they really appreciate what I’m doing, and they let me know it.”
Mr. Trump claimed, without evidence Tuesday, that “thousands” of people have let his administration know they’re “thankful” he’s calling attention to Baltimore, saying African-Americans are “happy as hell” he’s highlighting the “corruption” there.
The president has been attacking Cummings and Baltimore since early Saturday morning tweets in which he blamed Cummings for Baltimore being “infested” with rodents. Mr. Trump on Tuesday suggested that Cummings’ House Oversight and Reform Committee, which recently issued subpoenas for records belonging to the president’s family members, should start investigating Baltimore. Republicans have remained largely silent on the president’s attacks.
Mr. Trump, accused by critics of at the very least stirring racial tensions, insisted on Tuesday that he’s the “least racist person” anywhere in the “world.”
And the president insisted his attacks on Cummings and Baltimore aren’t hurting him politically, and are even benefiting him.
“I think I’m helping myself because I”m pointing out the tremendous corruption that’s taking place,” both in Baltimore and other cities run by Democrats, Mr. Trump told reporters Tuesday.
But, contrary to what Mr. Trump says, Baltimore residents CBS News has spoken with aren’t encouraged by the president’s attacks. Baltimore barber Sherrod Williams told CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues the president’s words do sting, but Baltimore residents are strong.
“It’s not going to affect people here. If anything, these people have been through so much, and they know what they are up against,” Williams said in an interview.
The president frequently cites unemployment figures for African-Americans to back up his claims that his administration is helping the black community, and those figures are at historic lows. But the wealth gap between black and white Americans has grown, and 73 percent of black Americans in a January CBS News poll said race relations are generally bad in America.