Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said he told President Donald Trump in a meeting on Wednesday that the way he’s described African-American communities is “insulting.”
During the presidential campaign, Trump frequently painted a grim and inaccurate picture of black communities, saying they were in “the worst shape they’ve ever been in before.”
“Look how much African-American communities are suffering under Democratic control. To those, I say the following: What do you have to lose by trying something new, like Trump?” Trump asked on the campaign trail in August. “You’re living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs. Fifty-eight percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?”
Cummings, a vocal Trump critic, told the Baltimore Sun he’d reminded the president how damaging those comments were on Wednesday, saying, “I want you to realize that all African-American communities are not places of depression and where people are being harmed. When we hear those words about carnage and we are living in depressed situations, I told him it was very hurtful.”
In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Cummings said Trump had replied that he would change the language he used to describe black communities.
“He shook his head and said, ‘You got a point there, you’re absolutely right, I’m gonna change that language.’”
Cummings also told CNN that he had confronted Trump over his promised investigation of voter fraud, telling him that such fraud is nonexistent and urging him to investigate voter suppression instead.
The White House did not immediately reply to a request for comment regarding Trump’s conversation with Cummings.
The Maryland congressman and Trump met to talk about lowering prescription drug prices. Previously, Trump said he’d called Cummings to set up a meeting on the topic after hearing him speak about it on television, and complained that the lawmaker was avoiding him.
“He wanted it, but we called, called, called, and I can’t make a meeting with him. Every day, I walk and say, ‘I would like to meet with him,’ because I do want to solve the problem,” Trump said at a news conference last month. “He probably was told by [Senate Minority Leader Chuck] Schumer ― or somebody like that, some other lightweight ― he was probably told, he was probably told, ‘Don’t meet with Trump. It’s bad politics.’”
Cummings denied he had canceled any prior meeting with Trump, and told the Baltimore Sun that Wednesday’s meeting was productive. When the paper asked whether his feelings about the president had changed, Cummings replied, “We’ll see what happens.”