CNN Anchor Defends Baltimore Against Attack Trump, Notes President Uses 'Infestation' When Talking About Minorities

CNN anchor Victor Blackwell responded to President Donald Trump's Saturday morning screed against his hometown of Baltimore by drawing connections between the president's language and the kinds of neighborhoods Trump frequently targets, choking up while coming to his city's defense.

"'Infested,' that's usually reserved for references to rodents and insects, but we've seen the president invoke infestation to criticize lawmakers before," Blackwell said. "Do you see a pattern here... Donald Trump has tweeted more than 43,000 times, he's insulted thousands of people, many different types of people. But when he tweets about infestation, it's about black and brown people."

The president's tweetstorm was directed at Baltimore via Representative Elijah Cummings, whose congressional district includes much of the Maryland city. As chair of the House Oversight Committee, Cummings is a powerful figure on Capitol Hill who wields significant oversight authority over the Trump administration and who has used it to investigate squalid conditions inside detention facilities at the U.S.-Mexico border, which the president described as "clean, efficient & well run" despite plentiful evidence to the contrary.

....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

Blackwell reviewed Trump's use of the word 'infestation'—a historically fraught descriptor that has long been attached to people of color, Jews and Roma, among others—citing examples where the president targeted black and brown people or areas in his tweets.

Two weeks ago, as Blackwell noted, Trump invoked a racist slogan to attack four Democratic congresswomen, who are people of color. In doing so, he admonished them to go back to the "crime infested places from which they came," and implied they were born in other countries despite all four being U.S. citizens, and only one born outside the country.

The CNN anchor also recalled a tweet from before the 2017 inauguration in which Trump attacked the civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis and told him to "spend more time" on his "crime infested" district.

In 2014, during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Trump complained about "sending thousands of ill-trained soldiers into Ebola infested areas."

“Donald Trump has tweeted more than 43,000 times. He’s insulted thousands of people… but when he tweets about infestation, it’s about black and brown people.”

— Josh Campbell (@joshscampbell) July 27, 2019

According to the Trump Twitter Archive, Donald Trump has tweeted about infestations a total of eight times, with each reference pertaining to or implying a connection to minority people or primarily black and brown neighborhoods.

"No human being would want to live there," the president wrote about Congressman Elijah Cummings's hometown district of Baltimore.

"The president says about Congressman Cummings's district," Blackwell began, before pausing to stifle a well of emotion, "that no human would want to live there. You know who did, Mr. President? I did."

Colleagues of Chairman Cummings immediately came to his defense. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, herself a recipient of racist attacks from the president, wrote that Cummings "is centered in American values that [Trump] will *never* understand."

Senator Kamala Harris wrote that "it's disgraceful the president has chosen to start his morning disparaging this great American city."

Cummings responded to the president's tweetstorm by defending his use of the gavel to conduct oversight of the Trump administration.

"Mr. President, I go home to my district daily. Each morning, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neighbors," he wrote. "It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents."

President Trump Speaks To Reporters In The Oval Office
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to members of the press during a signing of a “safe third country” agreement in the Oval Office of the White House July 26, 2019 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty