WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Thursday if President Donald Trump wants to belittle her Baltimore hometown as rat-infested, then he should consult with his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, whom she calls a “slumlord.”
Pelosi’s remarks upon returning to the Capitol were her first public comments over the days-long attacks Trump has been waging on the black-majority city and one of its congressional representatives, Elijah Cummings, who is investigating the administration as chairman of the powerful House Oversight committee.
The speaker, who grew up in Baltimore— and whose father and brother both served as mayor decades ago — said the city is a great source of pride, as is Cummings, whose district includes parts of the city.
“The president, this comes as no surprise, really doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” she told reporters as she and Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, brushed past crowds of tourists on their way to a bill ceremony. “But he maybe could ask his son in law, who’s a slumlord there, if he wants to talk about rodents.”
Kushner’s family real estate firm owns thousands of apartments and townhomes in the Baltimore area. Some have been criticized for the kind of disrepair and neglect that Trump has accused local leaders of failing to address.
Asked Thursday if his son-in-law, who is a senior adviser at the White House, bears any responsibility for the city’s problems, Trump revived his attack on the congressman. He also extended his criticism to other cities.
“I think the responsibility is the people that have run Baltimore for so many years, obviously headed up by Elijah Cummings,” Trump said as he left Washington for a campaign rally.
“The people of Baltimore, they really appreciate what I’m doing,” Trump claimed. He went on to say the problems aren’t just in Baltimore. “It’s other Democrat-run cities,” he said.
Over the weekend, while Pelosi was leading a Congressional Black Caucus delegation on a trip to Ghana to mark the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved Africans being sent to the New World, Trump began attacking Baltimore and the congressman.
In tweets and comments, Trump repeatedly disparaged the storied Maryland city and majority-black district represented by the Democrat, who’s leading multiple investigations of the president’s governmental dealings.
Lawmakers tend not to criticize the White House when they, or the president, are traveling abroad. And Pelosi apparently did not publicly speak out until she returned to the Capitol on Thursday. Earlier, she had tweeted her support for Cummings.
The president’s behavior, coming just two weeks after he launched an attack on four freshmen women of color in the House, brought revived criticism of Trump’s comments as racist and an outpouring of support for Baltimore.
Even though Pelosi has long since lived in California, a “proud” San Francisco liberal, as she often says, she remains a defender of Baltimore, where a street in the Little Italy section carries the family name, D’Alesandro Way.
On Thursday, she referred to city as, “My Baltimore.”
Associated Press writer Kevin Freking in Washington contributed to this report.