House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings on Sunday said he has “no doubt” that President Trump is racist.
When asked during an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos whether he believed the president was racist after Trump called for four Democratic lawmakers of color to “go back” to the “crime infested places from which they came,” Cummings, D-Md., said “I believe he is — yes, no doubt about it.”
“And I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I got to tell you, George,” he continued, “when I think about what he said to these young ladies who are merely trying to bring excellence to government and trying to make sure that generations yet unborn have an opportunity to experience a true democracy.”
Democrats loudly condemned Trump’s comments as racist in a House vote Tuesday, while Republicans were slow to respond to the attacks against “the Squad” of four newly elected Democratic congresswomen Trump told to “go back.” The four are Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. All women are American citizens and, excluding Omar, all were born in the United States.
“When I hear those things it takes me back,” Cummings, 68, added, recalling his own experience with racism when trying to integrate a swimming pool at age 11.
“I can still remember bleeding from my forehead when people were throwing bottles — and these were adults, throwing bottles and saying, ‘Go home, n*****.’”
Last week, Cummings, who was born in Baltimore and grew up during the civil rights era, told NBC News he was reminded of this experience by a Trump campaign rally in which Trump attacked each congresswoman, and his supporters chanted “Send her back!” in reference to Somali-born Omar.
“They totally said the same words,” he recalled. “They said, ‘Go back to your neighborhood. Go back to where you came from.’”
Trump disavowed the chants as House Democrats, outraged by the event, warned that Omar’s life was “in imminent danger.” And when Omar supporters greeted her at a Minnesota airport, chanting “Welcome home,” Trump fumed, claiming without evidence that the rally was “staged.”
On Sunday, he doubled down on his criticism of the Squad, despite calls for both sides to “tone down their rhetoric,” tweeting, “I don’t believe the four Congresswomen are capable of loving our Country.”
According to Cummings, “The president has to set the tone.”
“He needs to be a role model,” Cummings told Stephanopoulos. “I would say to the president right now ... ‘Mr. President, we want you to be a role model. We want somebody in that White House who our children can be proud of, who our children can emulate, who our children will look up to, and that is not the kind of example that you are setting. And I’m telling you, Mr. President, you and we, our nation is better than that.’”
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