President Donald Trump is heading to Baltimore – the same city he recently called “a rat and rodent infested mess” – on Thursday to speak at the 2019 House Republican Conference member retreat dinner, according to a White House schedule released Sunday.
It’s common for the President to give remarks at their party’s annual congressional retreat, and last year, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both spoke at the GOP gathering in West Virginia.
But Trump’s appearance this year is notable after he repeatedly slammed Baltimore as a way of criticizing House Oversight chairman and Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, who has been a frequent critic of Trump. The President’s criticism of Cummings, who is black, followed racist comments he made against four progressive women of color in Congress and were widely condemned by Democrats as racist. The Republican retreat was scheduled months before Trump’s Twitter tirade.
CNN has reached out Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott, Baltimore Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young and Cummings for comment on Trump’s upcoming visit.
In a series of tweets in July, Trump denigrated the city as “a rat and rodent infested mess” and said “no human being would want to live there.
The President also suggested that conditions in Cummings’ district, which is majority black and includes parts of Baltimore, are “FAR WORSE and more dangerous” than those at the US-Mexico border and called it a “very dangerous & filthy place.”
Baltimore leaders blasted the President over his remarks. Young told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day” Trump should send federal assistance to the city and other cities similar to Baltimore and criticized Trump for “childish tweets.”
Speaking to reporters a few days after the tweets, Trump said he did not regret his comments and that African-Americans were reaching out to the White House thanking him for his attacks on Cummings and Baltimore. He also said the people of Baltimore were “living in hell” and that he is the “least racist person anywhere in the world.”
Trump appeared to sarcastically mock Cummings after his Baltimore home was burglarized in July, calling the incident “too bad” in a tweet. At an event opening for an outdoor play space in Baltimore after the burglary, Cummings said he was open to Trump visiting the city.
“The President is welcome in our district, to go through the 7th Congressional District, and he will see strong people who get up and they go out to work on the early bus,” Cummings said in an interview. “He’ll see people, he’ll see organizations that have come to the inner city of Baltimore like neighborhoods like this and … did not go around criticizing, but they said, ‘How can we help?’ And they have helped,” Cummings continued, adding, “I welcome the President. I would love to see him.”
CNN’s Jim Acosta, Nicky Robertson and Caroline Kelly contributed to this report.