- President Donald Trump criticized Rep. Elijah Cummings on Twitter Saturday, saying that his district, which includes parts of Baltimore, is a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” and “the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States.”
- Many responded condemning Trump’s tweets, with some calling them racist, and others pointing out factual inaccuracies.
- Trump doubled-down by calling Cummings a racist on Sunday. He later went after Reverend Al Sharpton on Twitter after Sharpton said he was going to Baltimore Monday morning.
Trump Criticizes Reverend Al Sharpton
President Donald Trump condemned civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton on Twitter Monday morning amid backlash over tweets the President made regarding Rep. Elijah Cumming (D-MD) over the weekend.
Trump targeted Sharpton after the famous activist and MSNBC host tweeted that he was “headed to Baltimore.”
The president retweeted the reverend’s post and added his own statement “Al is a con man, a troublemaker, always looking for a score,” Trump wrote, adding, “Hates Whites & Cops!”
Sharpton responded to Trump in a tweet. “I do make trouble for bigots,” the reverend wrote. “If he really thought I was a con man he would want me in his cabinet.”
Trump Goes After Cummings
Trump’s remarks condemning Sharpton come after the president faced criticism for a number of tweets he made this weekend attacking Rep. Cummings, who represents part of Baltimore.
Cummings has been an open critic of the Trump administration’s handling of the crisis at the border. Earlier this month, Cummings referred to the treatment of migrant children at the border “government-sponsored child abuse.”
Cummings is also the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, which is leading multiple investigations into Trump and his administration. On Thursday, the committee voted to subpoena all work-related emails and texts that Trump administration officials had sent from private accounts.
The vote was part of an ongoing probe that expanded after a lawyer for Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner said they both used personal accounts for official business, which notably is illegal under federal records laws.
Trump seemed to have both these factors in mind when he took to Twitter Saturday morning.
“Rep, Elijah Cummings has been a brutal bully, shouting and screaming at the great men & women of Border Patrol about conditions at the Southern Border, when actually his Baltimore district is FAR WORSE and more dangerous,” Trump wrote.
“Cumming District is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess,” the president continued. “If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous & filthy place”
In a separate tweet, Trump seemed to indicate that Cumming’s district was stealing or embezzling money. He also added that the district is “considered the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States. No human being would want to live there.”
Trump continued to tweet similar things at Cummings on and off for the rest of the day, at one point writing, “He does NOTHING for his very poor, very dangerous and very badly run district! Take a look…. #BlacksForTrump2020.”
Cummings responded to the president’s attacks on Twitter, later that day.
“It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch,” he wrote. “But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents.”
A number of people take to Twitter to defend Cummings and condemn Trump’s tweets. Some, like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, called Trump’s tweet’s racist. “We all reject racist attacks against him and support his steadfast leadership,” she wrote on Twitter.
Politicians from Maryland and Baltimore specifically also took to Twitter. Baltimore Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young said in a statement on Twitter that Trump’s “rhetoric is hurt and dangerous to the people’ he’s sworn to represent.”
“Mr. Trump, you are a disappointment to the people of Baltimore, our country, and the world,” he added.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) also chimed in, telling The Washington Post, “This is an example of the racist bully we have as a president, lashing out at Elijah Cummings for speaking the truth and for standing up to the president and his policies.”
“And the president just can’t take that and lashed out in a way that clearly had racial overtones,” he continued. “Elijah Cummings’s district is very diverse. It has lower-income neighborhoods that need a lot of help. And it has very wealthy areas.”
On that note, others pointed out factual inaccuracies in Trump’s claims about Cummings district. Political pollster Nate Silver cited demographics from the “Biggest US Cities” website in a Twitter post to note that Cummings district has many middle and working-class areas.
“MD-7 is the 2nd-wealthiest majority-black district in the country ($58K median household income, per my data; MD-4 is first),” Silver wrote. “Also the 2nd-most well-educated majority-black district (37% bachelors’ degree+; GA-4 is first).”
The Washington Post, also pointed out that the FBI’s 2017 crime report ranked Baltimore the third most dangerous city in the U.S., not the first.
Others, however, defended Trump’s remarks or played down what he said.
Speaking with Fox News Sunday, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney came to the president’s defense.
“When the president hears lies like that, he’s going to fight back,” Mulvaney said. “It has absolutely zero to do with race. This is what the president does. He fights, and he’s not wrong to do so.”
Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) did not say much about the tweets during an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, but he did turn the criticism back to Cummings.
“I didn’t do the tweets,” he said. “I can’t talk about why he did what he did, but I’m very disappointed in people like Congressman Cummings, who is attacking Border Patrol agents that are trying to do their job when the Democrats won’t give them the resources to do it.”
Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), one of the four Republicans who voted to condemn Trump’s tweets telling four American Congresswomen to “go back” to the countries they supposedly came from, also downplayed the most recent tweets in an interview on ABC’s This Week.
“I think these tweets are different from the ones a few days ago or a few weeks ago,” Hurd said.
Trump responded to the attacks by doubling down on Sunday in a series of tweets.
He specifically responded to Pelosi’s remarks, and blamed the Democrats for playing the “race card.”
“Someone please explain to Nancy Pelosi, who was recently called racist by those in her own party, that there is nothing wrong with bringing out the very obvious fact that Congressman Elijah Cummings has done a very poor job for his district and the City of Baltimore,” Trump wrote.
In a later tweet, Trump referred to the African American representative as “racist Elijah Cummings.”
A number of people have compared Trump’s statements about Cummings and Baltimore to other remarks he has made in the past. In a now-viral video, CNN host Victor Blackwell, a native of Baltimore, noted that Trump often uses the term infestation when talking to minorities.
Blackwell specifically noted Trump’s tweets from a few weeks ago where he said that the four progressive Congresswomen known as the Squad should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
Aaron Rupar of Vox also echoed that, posting screenshots of other times Trump has used that same language. Rupar included examples like in 2018, when Trump referred to sanctuary cities in California as “crime infested.”
He also included a 2017 attack on African American Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), where the president wrote that Lewis should focus on the “burning and crime-infested inner-cities of the U.S.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Vox) (Fox News)
Former Capitol Security Officials Blame Intelligence Failures for Insurrection
- During the Senate’s first hearing into security failures that lead to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, top officials provided new insights but shirked responsibility.
- Many blamed the FBI for not gathering more information or properly communicating what they did know, arguing that the breakdown was a result of the intelligence community not taking domestic extremism seriously.
- Police leaders noted that a bulletin from an FBI field office warning of a “war” at the Capitol, issued a day before the insurrection, was not properly flagged or delivered.
- However, others noted that the Capitol Police had in fact issued an internal alert three days before warning of similar threats.
Security Officials Shirk Responsibility
Former top officials responsible for security at the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection testified before the Senate for the first time Tuesday.
While the testimonies represented the most detailed accounts of the security failures leading up to and during attacks, they also raised questions about how those failures came out.
The top officials did acknowledge some of their own mistakes and admitted they were unprepared for such an event. Still, they largely deflected responsibility for the breakdown in communication and instead blamed intelligence officials, their subordinates, and even each other at times.
All of the officials testified that the FBI and the intelligence community had failed to detect information about the intentions of the pro-Trump insurrectionists and properly relay what they did know before the attack.
Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund and acting D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee depicted the collapse in communication as a broader failure of U.S. intelligence agencies to take domestic extremism as seriously as foreign threats.
Specifically, both officials mentioned this in the context of a bulletin issued a day before the insurrection by the FBI’s office in Norfolk, Virginia. That bulletin warned of a “war” at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
In his testimony, Sund — who resigned the day after the insurrection — disclosed for the first time that the alter had in fact been sent to the Capitol Police through the Joint Terrorism Task Force but said it was never forwarded to him or either of the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms.
Contee also said the D.C. police department received the warning, but it was a nondescript email and not labeled as a priority alert that would demand immediate attention.
“I would certainly think that something as violent as an insurrection at the Capitol would warrant a phone call or something,” he told the Senators.
However, lawmakers pointed out that the Capitol Police did have warnings about the attack in the form of their own internal intelligence report issued three days before the planned pro-Trump rally that preceded the storming of the Capitol.
In that 12-page memo, some of which was obtained by The Washington Post, the Capitol Police intelligence unit warned that “Congress itself” could be targeted by Trump supporters who believed the electoral college certification was “the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election.”
The memo also noted the large expected crowds, the fact that organizers had urged Trump supporters to bring guns and combat gear, and that “President Trump himself” had been promoting the chaos.
Two people familiar with the memo told The Post that the report had been relayed to all Capitol Police command staff, though in their testimonies Tuesday, the former security officials said the intel they had did not have enough specifics about the potential for an attack.
Some, however, appear to doubt the series of events detailed by Sund. On Tuesday, Buzzfeed filed a lawsuit against the Capitol Police for records related to the insurrection. The agency has been criticized for not providing enough information to the media, and contradictory testimonies delivered to Senators likely raised more red flags.
Lawmakers Emphasize Need for Better Precautions
The argument that there was so much vague, threatening online chatter making it hard to distinguish what was legitimate is something that many law enforcement officials have used to explain their failure to prepare for the attacks.
In fact, that was the exact same response the FBI gave reporters Tuesday after Sund and Contee blamed them for not giving an explicit or strong enough warning. Lawmakers hope that the many hearings and ongoing investigations into the matter will result in tangible policy changes to prevent similar attacks from happening again.
While it is currently unclear what that will look like, many leaders have emphasized the need for a broad rethinking of how the U.S. addresses domestic extremist threats at every level.
“There’s no question in my mind that there was a failure to take this threat more seriously, despite widespread social media content and public reporting that indicated violence was extremely likely,” Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mi.) told reporters Tuesday.
“The federal government must start taking these online threats seriously to ensure they don’t cross into the real-world violence.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (The Associated Press)
Illinois Rep. Files Bill To Ban Video Games Like “Grand Theft Auto” Amid Carjacking Spikes
- Illinois State Rep. Marcus Evans (D) has proposed a bill that would crack down on certain video games in hopes of reducing a dramatic uptick in Chicago carjackings.
- Illinois law currently bans people from selling “violent video games” to minors; however, Evans’ bill seeks to ban the sale of “violent video games” to anyone in the state.
- Among other language, Evans is seeking to expand the state definition of “serious physical harm” related to video games so that it includes “motor vehicle theft with a driver or passenger present inside the vehicle when the theft begins.”
- A number of gamers have criticized the bill, calling it a misguided approach for reducing violence in the state.
“Grand Theft Auto” Bill
Illinois State Representative Marcus Evans (D) has filed a bill that, if passed, would ban the sale of violent video games to anyone in the state.
While the bill does address the frequent debate around whether gun violence in video games inspires real-world violence, Evans is actually filing the bill primarily in response to a series of carjackings in Chicago. In fact, the bill was largely conceived with the game “Grand Theft Auto” in mind.
“‘Grand Theft Auto’ and other violent video games are getting in the minds of our young people and perpetuating the normalcy of carjacking,” Evans said. “Carjacking is not normal and carjacking must stop.”
According to the Chicago-Sun Times, Chicago saw 1,400 carjackings in 2020 — double that of what it saw in 2019. That’s now continued into this year, with 241 carjackings already reported in the city as of Monday. Earlier this week, police charged two boys, ages 13 and 14, with stealing a man’s car after holding him at gunpoint.
The latest addition to the “Grand Theft Auto” franchise was released in 2013. Notably, Chicago carjacking rates in 2013, 2014, and 2015 were the lowest of the previous decade.
The bill Evans has filed would amend a current Illinois law that restricts the sale of “violent video games” to minors.
As part of his amendment to include all age groups, Evans wants to update the definition of “violent video game” under state law to include games that “perpetuate human-on-human violence in which the player kills or otherwise causes serious physical or psychological harm to another human or an animal.”
Evans also wants to update the definition of “serious physical harm” related to video games so that it would include “psychological harm and child abuse, sexual abuse, animal abuse, domestic violence, violence against women, or motor vehicle theft with a driver or passenger present inside the vehicle when the theft begins.”
Gamers Say Evans’ Argument Is Misplaced
Among gamers, Evans’ bill has reignited conversations around video games and violence.
“Carjackings have happened before games and Marcus Evans thinks today that it’s the fault of video games like GTA?” one person tweeted. “I never had any need for committing crimes playing games my whole life.”
See what others are saying: (The Hill) (Fox 32 Chicago) (NME)
California Lawmakers Pass $7.6 Billion Stimulus Package With $600 Checks
- The California State Legislature approved a $7.6 billion stimulus package Monday that will send out around 5.7 million stimulus checks to qualifying state residents.
- Most of the direct payments will be given to people who make under $30,000 a year.
- Over half a million will go to people who have an individual tax identification number (ITIN) instead of a Social Security number and an annual income of under $75,000. Most people with ITINs are immigrants, and none were eligible for the federal stimulus checks.
- Additional provisions of the bill include over $2 billion in grants and fee waivers for small businesses as well as $35 million for food and diaper banks, among other things.
California Stimulus Bill
California legislators passed a $7.6 billion stimulus package Monday that Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has said he will sign on Tuesday.
Among other measures, the bill would send out stimulus checks worth $600 to qualifying people. According to reports, $2.3 trillion — nearly a third of the whole package — will be used to send out roughly 5.7 million direct payments.
Around 3.8 million of those checks will go to Californians that make less than $30,000 annually and thus qualify for the state earned income tax credit. Officials have said that Californians who claim the credit on their 2020 taxes can expect to receive their money within four to seven weeks of filing.
Another 1.2 million residents who receive either federal or state supplemental income will get the checks, and 405,000 additional payments will be placed directly on the EBT cards of CalWORKS participants, the state’s welfare-to-work program.
Notably, about 565,000 stimulus payments will go out to people who have what’s known as an individual tax identification number (ITIN) rather than a Social Security number. Most of those people are immigrants, and no one with an ITIN received either of the last two federal stimulus payments.
As a result, the California stimulus bill will give out $600 payments to people with ITIN’s who make below $75,000 a year, and a total of $1,200 to those who make $30,000 and qualify for the earned income tax credit.
In addition to the direct payments, the legislation also includes more than $2 billion in grants and fee waivers for small businesses, $30 million for food banks, and $5 million for diaper banks. The legislature is also expected to approve an additional $2 billion in tax breaks for businesses later this week, which would effectively bring the total package to $9.6 billion.
U.S. House To Pass Federal Stimulus Package This Week
The California package comes as Democrats in Congress are hashing out the details of the next federal coronavirus relief bill.
On Monday, President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package advanced through the House Budget Committee, and according to reports, barring any major objections, it is expected to be passed by the chamber as soon as Friday or Saturday.
The hard part, however, will be getting it passed through the Senate, where all 50 Democrats and Vice President Kamala Harris will need to approve the legislation. In order to ensure that some of the more moderate members are on board, leadership will likely have to have to hold negotiations and possibly scrap certain parts of the House’s version of the package.
One provision on the chopping block is a measure that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, which has already drawn opposition from at least two Democratic Senators.