President Donald Trump appeared to sarcastically call out a break-in at Rep. Elijah Cummings’ Baltimore home after a week of attacking the prominent African American lawmaker over the conditions of his Baltimore district – even comparing the city’s murder rate to third world countries.
“Really bad news! The Baltimore house of Elijah Cummings was robbed. Too bad!” the President tweeted on Friday morning.
The Baltimore Police Department said Thursday it is investigating a report of a burglary that reportedly occurred at the Maryland congressman’s home shortly before 4 a.m. ET on Saturday — hours before Trump first tweeted criticism about Cummings and his home city.
Cummings confirmed the incident in a statement Friday, but said that the individual did not gain access into his home.
“I was notified of the intrusion by my security system, and I scared the intruder away by yelling before the person gained entry into the residential portion of the house,” Cummings said. “I thank the Baltimore Police Department for their response and ask that all further inquiries be directed to them.”
Trump maintained Friday afternoon that his tweet wasn’t meant to make him sound like a “wise guy.”
“The tweet itself was really just really a repeat of what I heard on the news. I know his house was robbed and I thought that was too bad. That was really not meant as a wise guy tweet,” Trump said on the White House lawn before departing for his Bedminster, New Jersey, property.
Nikki Haley, who served as US ambassador to the United Nations, has criticized the President’s apparent jab at Cummings.
“This is so unnecessary,” Haley responded to Trump’s tweet seeming to making light of the recent burglary attempt at Cummings’ home.
White House adviser Kellyanne Conway shot back at Haley, tweeting, “THIS is so unnecessary Trump-PENCE2020.”
Asked on the White House lawn about Haley’s response, Trump said, “Well, that’s OK. I don’t mind that.”
Since leaving the administration, Haley has largely avoided overt criticism of the President.
Haley, who left her post as Trump’s first ambassador in October 2018, had defended the President ‘s remarks about Baltimore earlier this week.
“Instead of all this back and forth about who everyone thinks is racist and whose not, the President just offered to help the people of Baltimore. They should take him up on it. Let’s put the same energy into where it will make a difference,” Haley tweeted.
Trump attacks Cummings and Baltimore
On Saturday, Trump attacked Cummings, the chair of the House Oversight Committee, as a “bully” and slammed Baltimore, as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess,” suggesting that “no human being would want to live there.” His tweets had followed a segment that aired an hour earlier on Fox News, in which a Republican strategist claimed conditions in Cummings’ district were worse than those at the southern border.
Cummings’ committee has also launched a number of investigations into the Trump administration related to Trump’s finances and White House practices, including security clearances and Hatch Act violations.
Trump’s tirade against Cummings was the latest verbal assault against a minority member of Congress who is a frequent critic of the President.
Last month, Trump – in racist language that was later condemned by a House resolution – told four progressive Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Three of the four were born in the US, and the fourth is a naturalized US citizen.
The President’s charges against Cummings continued throughout the week, despite the public backlash over his remarks and discomfort about the attacks from aides.
At a rally in Cincinnati Thursday night, Trump claimed Baltimore’s homicide rate is higher than in countries like El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
The city’s homicide rate in 2017 was 56 per 100,000 people, putting Baltimore ahead of any other major American metropolis, according to the FBI’s annual Crime in the United States. Baltimore was followed in the FBI’s tally by Detroit, which recorded a homicide rate of 40 per 100,000 people in that same year.
Trump also compared Baltimore to entire nations. In El Salvador, the murder rate in 2017 was 60 per 100,000 inhabitants; in Guatemala the rate was 26 per 100,000; and in Honduras it was 43 per 100,000, based on data compiled by InSight Crime.
Cummings served for decades in the city Trump attacked
Responding to some of the President’s tweets over the weekend – in which Trump suggested the congressman needed to spend more time fixing his district – Cummings said on Twitter: “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 – and a fundamental part of his story. The son of former sharecroppers, Cummings was born in 1951 and graduated from Baltimore City College High School in 1969.
Cummings grew up in the Civil Rights era and recently discussed how, even at a young age, he was part of that movement to integrate parts of his neighborhood.
“We were trying to integrate an Olympic-size pool near my house, and we had been constrained to a wading pool in the black community,” Cummings told ABC’s “This Week” last month. “As we tried to March to that pool over six days, I was beaten, all kinds of rocks and bottles thrown at me.”
The Maryland Democrat said Trump’s racist remarks regarding four other members of Congress echoed the same insults he heard as a 12-year-old boy in 1962, which he said were “very painful.”
“The interesting thing is that I heard the same chants. ‘Go home. You don’t belong here,’” he told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. “And they called us the N-word over and over again.”
House and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said Wednesday that he spoke to Trump “over the last couple of days about what we can do for Baltimore” and said that Trump is “willing to work with” the people of Baltimore – including Cummings – to improve the city.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak, Jeremy Diamond and Tara Subramaniam contributed to this report.