President Donald Trump’s attacks on Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings haven’t gained as much internal support at the White House as his earlier attacks on the “Squad,” according to administration officials. But there are no signs Trump believes his strategy is wrong or is planning to pull back his attacks on the African American lawmaker from Baltimore.
One official confirmed that some aides express discomfort at the attacks, which do not appear to have been part of a larger strategy, during a Monday staff meeting first reported by The New York Times.
Instead, aides said Trump has long expressed annoyance at Cummings’ attempts to investigate members of the administration and identified Baltimore as a target over the weekend.
Trump was particularly irked at the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which Cummings chairs, moving to obtain information related to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. Trump has told people he believes his children, who are also government employees, are being unfairly targeted.
The President’s attacks on Cummings have caused some internal head-shaking since they’re aimed at a lawmaker who is generally well liked, even among Republicans. The belief among most aides is the four Democratic congresswomen Trump attacked earlier were a better target because of their far left-leaning political positions.
Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina praised both Trump and Cummings on Monday after the President targeted the Maryland Democrat, whom he calls his friend.
Meadows – who had been cast into the middle of the fray between Trump and Cummings due to his close relationship with both men – made his remarks in a text message sent to CNN political commentator Rick Santorum, who read the message Monday on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”
Santorum said Meadows had given him permission to read the message publicly.
“No one works harder for his district than Elijah,” Meadows said in the text message. “He’s passionate about the people he represents, and no, Elijah is not a racist. I’m friends with both President Trump and Chairman Cummings. I know them both well and neither is a racist.”
Still, Trump has said in the past day that he thinks his messaging about inner-cities is resonating and doesn’t appear swayed by the concerns of his advisers.
Trump claimed Tuesday morning while speaking to reporters that he was “helping himself” with voters when whether he feels he is alienating moderates with his tweets.
“No, I think I’m helping myself because I’m pointing out the tremendous corruption,” he said before departing the White House.
Responding to some of the President’s weekend tweets, Cummings tweeted: “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.”
Cummings has spent decades fighting for the city that is home to his district. It’s also the same municipality in which Cummings was born and raised.
Trump expressed no regrets for his attacks while speaking to reporters on Tuesday morning.
He called Baltimore “an example of what corrupt government leads to” and that he feels “so sorry for the people of Baltimore.”
“If they ask me, we will get involved,” Trump said.
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond and Betsy Klein contributed to this report.