Appearing on CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield Sunday, CNN Political Commentator Van Jones reacted to President Trump’s tweets targeting Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings; describing his Baltimore-based district as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” Jones compared President Trump to a kindergartener and not surprisingly, alleged that the President’s tweets directed at the African-American Cummings and his majority African-American district were motivated by racial animus.
According to Jones, “the President of the United States is failing kindergarten right now. I mean, literally, a kindergartener would be booted out, parents would be called, if...you had a student, even at six years old, talking about people this way, talking to people this way.” Jones later claimed “there is a racial charge” to the President’s tweets: “I know a lot of people get tired of hearing these words, you know, racism gets thrown around, socialism gets thrown around. But this is as clear a statement of racial animus as you can find.”
In the past, Jones has made statements that might qualify as “racial charges” or examples of “racial animus.” For instance, Jones once claimed that “you’ve never seen a Columbine done by a black child. Never.”
Apparently forgetting about his own racially charged rhetoric, Jones spent the rest of the segment trying to paint President Trump as a racist. Jones alleged that by claiming that “no human being would want to live” in Baltimore, President Trump is saying “these are subhuman people” and was “beginning to challenge the humanity of people.”
Jones proceeded to psychoanalyze President Trump: “Here’s how you know that these are racially targeted tweets. Can you imagine Donald Trump saying this about a community in Appalachia? Can you imagine Donald Trump…saying about, you know, people who live in Appalachia, who live in rural poverty, that they are infested, that…no human being would want to live there…would be caught dead there? Can you imagine him saying that?”
Jones described President Trump as “somebody who when a Congressperson is African-American or Muslim, or Latina, he has a particular kind of bile it seems.” Speaking of “bile,” Jones once referred to Republicans as “a**holes,” one of many factors that led to his resignation from his position in the Obama administration.
Throughout the segment, host Fredricka Whitfield implied that Cummings’s “helping to promote an investigation of the President’s financial dealings” and his work on the House Oversight Committee might have motivated the President to send out the tweets, not racism. Jones barely addressed those claims, after all, smearing President Trump as a racist is much more fun for the liberal media.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Sunday’s edition of CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield is below. Click “expand” to read more.
CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD: Backlash is erupting right now as President Donald Trump doubles down on his attacks against Congressman Elijah Cummings and his Maryland’s Seventh District, which includes Baltimore. On the heels of the President’s extensive rant on the city and the Democratic lawmaker yesterday, he is back at it. The President, he is back at it today tweeting just moments ago, saying this, “There is nothing racist in stating plainly what most people already know, that Elijah Cummings has done a terrible job for the people of his district, and of Baltimore itself. Dems always play the race card when they are unable to win the facts. Shame!” That coming from the President. And Baltimore’s paper, The Baltimore Sun, fighting back in an op-ed this morning, calling the President after this headline, “Better to have a few rats than to be one,” “the mocker”…I’m now quoting from the paper, “the mocker of war heroes, the gleeful grabber of women’s private parts, the serial bankrupter of businesses, (and) the useful idiot of Vladimir Putin.” All right, the ongoing slew of insults also has a growing number of lawmakers across the country defending Congressman Cummings and touting his 23 years of service in Congress that includes Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and Congressman Jerry Nadler. They both addressed the…this trend from Trump today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Our job is to bring people together, to improve life for all people, not to be a…have a racist President who attacks people because they are African Americans. That is a disgrace, and that is why we’re going to defeat this President.
REP. JERRY NADLER: The President, is as he usually is, or often is, disgusting and racist. He makes these charges with no base at all. And they are designed to distract attention from the very serious allegations about his conduct that…that came from the Mueller, from the…from the committee hearings this week.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And as the condemnation continues to pour in, the President spending the day at his Virginia golf course. I want to bring in host of The Van Jones Show and CNN Political Commentator, Van Jones. Van, good to see you. So, your reaction to, you know, the President’s methods. I mean, he has nothing else better to do?
VAN JONES: No, I mean, the President of the United States is failing kindergarten right now. I mean, literally a kindergartener would be booted out, parents would be called if…if you had a student, even at six years old, talking about people this way, talking to people this way. You know, this is complex because there are real pain points in Baltimore. I spent a lot of my time in Baltimore, you know, after the…the disturbances there. Prince went there, did a concert, I helped with that. The reality is though, when you have pain points, you elect a President not to make fun but to make change, to make a difference. And I think that’s…that’s the terrible part here, is that where there are people who are suffering in Baltimore, they need a champion and not…not a…a jester when it comes to dealing with these very serious issues of poverty and deprivation. So, without…
WHITFIELD: Right. But is that really the issue? Is that really…are those the issues that the President is trying to get at, or is he using that…
WHITFIELD: …as a means in which to target Congressman Elijah Cummings who, you know, has made it very clear in his job in Oversight that he is looking for and, you know, or helping to promote an investigation of the President’s financial dealings and that really that the issue is the President doesn’t like that?
JONES: Yeah, you know, exactly. You’re making my…exactly my point, exactly what I’m trying to say, which is that if you were serious about caring about people in Baltimore, this is exactly 180 degrees the wrong way to go about it. So, this has nothing to do with the people in Baltimore, it has nothing to do with trying to make anything any better. It has to do with insulting people and throwing out these, these, these allegations. And there is a racial charge. I know a lot of people get…get tired of hearing these words, you know, racism gets thrown around, socialism gets thrown around. But this is as clear a statement of racial animus as you can find. When you’re…he didn’t, listen, he didn’t just say, well, “Elijah Cummings, clean up your act, do better.” He said no human being…
WHITFIELD: Human being.
JONES: …would want to live…yeah, I mean, hey, listen, once you say that there’s all these people living in Baltimore, no human being, well what are you saying? You’re saying that these are sub…subhuman people and you’re beginning to, to, to challenge the humanity of people, it’s just wrong. Like I said, you can’t do that in grade school.
WHITFIELD: So, the President says these things via tweet, you know, two weeks after, you know, he singled out four women of color, all sworn in members of Congress, you know, going back to their country, et cetera. And, you know, this is how Republican Congressman Will Hurd assessed the President’s tweets encompassing Cummings and what he has said of the Congresswomen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. WILL HURD (R-TX): These tweets are different than the ones from a few days ago or a few weeks ago. I forget how long ago it was now. When you tell someone to go back to Africa or…or whatever country, that’s in essence telling someone because you don’t look like them, that you are not American and that you do not have self-worth.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But to be clear, you…you’re, you’re drawing a line here. You condemned the go back tweets, but you do not condemn these tweets by the President?
HURD: I…I, I wouldn’t be doing those. I…I wouldn’t be tweeting this way. But I think they are different.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Is it different?
JONES: Listen, I mean, you can try to figure out some way to thread that needle if you want to. Here’s how you know that these are racially targeted tweets. Can you imagine Donald Trump saying this about a community in Appalachia? Can you imagine Donald Trump or any American politician saying about, you know, people who live in Appalachia, who live in rural poverty, that they are infested, that…that, you know, a…no human being would want to live there, no human being would be…would be caught dead there? Can you imagine him saying that? You can’t imagine him saying that because Donald Trump would never say that about a community of poor white people. And so that’s how you know. That’s the give, that’s the tell. If he were consistently going around insulting poor communities, he were consistently going around, you know, spewing bile on poor…poor communities then you can say listen, he’s just a guy that doesn’t like poor people. No, no, this is somebody who when a Congressperson is African-American or Muslim, or Latina, he has a particular kind of bile it seems. And when a community that’s struggling is of color or…or a nation is of color, it’s s-hole nations. It’s, you know, a crime infested, rat infested, it’s go back where you’re from. So, this is the pattern that people are concerned about. The sad part about it is, you know, President Trump actually has positive things he could be saying about these communities, he’s…he’s got an opportunity zone initiative, he’s done a criminal justice, there’s an unemployment record he can point to. He could be making a positive case for his presidency and contending, but instead he’s insulting and condemning people, and it just doesn’t make any sense.
WHITFIELD: And guess what, Van? There’s a piling on because the President just tweeted again just moments ago, saying this. “If racist Elijah Cummings would focus more of his energy on helping the good people of his district, and Baltimore itself, perhaps progress could be made in fixing the mess that he has helped to create over many years of incompetent leadership. His radical ‘oversight,’” he’s, you know, in the Oversight Committee, “his ‘oversight’ is a joke!” So, therein lies perhaps the motivation.
JONES: Yeah, I think so. I mean, look, here’s the deal, I think the…the worst part about all of this is that Donald Trump is a President of the United States, the entire United States, including Maryland, including Baltimore, including every neighborhood and precinct and household in Baltimore. And so, if there’s something wrong happening in Baltimore, he has a lot more power as President of the United States to do something about it than any single Congressperson or City Council person or dogcatcher. And yet we haven’t seen him leaning in to be as helpful as he might be, and yet he is somehow using this as a way to beat up on Elijah Cummings. Listen, I think the political class is in danger now of just collapsing into this “you’re a racist, you’re a socialist, you’re a bigot, you’re a socialist,” you know, a stutter back and forth while real problems just don’t get addressed. Hey, listen, I will say this to you and I’ll say this to anybody else, I care about poor people, I care about poor people in the barrio, in the hood, in Appalachia, at the border. Anybody, Republican or Democrat who wants to work on that issue in good faith, I will work with you in good faith, but this is not a good faith commentary about what’s happening in Baltimore or anyplace else, and it’s…it’s not a dog whistle, it’s a megaphone blast in terms of the difference between the way that this President chooses to talk when he’s mad about poor black communities versus poor white communities and that’s got to stop.
WHITFIELD: Van Jones, thank you so much from Detroit, appreciate it.