Tuesday on FOX News Channel's "America's Newsroom," FNC contributor Juan Williams, RealClearPolitics associate editor A.B. Stoddard, and Washington Times columnist Charles Hurt debate the meaning behind President Trump's accusation that the people of Baltimore "and other cities corruptly run by Democrats" are "living in Hell" because politicians like Rep. Elijah Cummings steal from the citizens.
"People have called from Baltimore thanking me so much, because all that money that's been spent over 20 years has been stolen and wasted by people like Elijah Cummings," President Trump said Tuesday. "Those people are living in hell in Baltimore. They're largely African American. And they really appreciate what I'm doing."
"There is no reason for anybody to allege that Elijah Cummings is a thief. That is just low," Juan Williams said. "It shouldn’t happen. It shouldn’t come from anyone to a sitting member of Congress unless you have some evidence. It certainly shouldn’t come from the White House."
"The money [Trump is citing] goes to places like dredging the harbor to see if we can get more boats in, taking care of Johns Hopkins, there's a high poverty rate -- remember, 60+% of the population in Baltimore are black and there is a 20-30% poverty rate among African-Americans in this country. What you have here is a situation where there is a crying need for change," Juan Williams explained further. "But the name-calling and the debasing of an entire group of people and a city, I just find this reprehensible."
"I don't think anybody disagrees that there is corruption in Baltimore," Charles Hurt noted. "Elijah Cummings has been representing the district for more than 20 years -- that's before The Wire was on HBO... Donald Trump is talking about issues, and what do you get in Washington? All anybody in Washington talks about is race. It is not racist, he is being combative... But this idea that everything is about race is crazy."
"I don't think it is all about race," Juan Williams countered. "I think that what you have to understand is that there is a pattern here. This is a guy that went after John Lewis, Frederica Wilson--"
"He went after Jeb Bush and Joe Biden," Hurt interjected.
"When he goes after people of color, he excites racial passions in this country and divides us," Williams said. "When he went after those four congresswomen" and said "throw them out, get them out of here. This is divisive and rank language. And I think it hits people of color in a specific way. They are a vulnerable population and you are absolutely going after them with a vengeance that suggests — and again, you look at what is going on in the country, a spike in terms of hate crimes. White nationalism, the FBI director says, is the biggest source of terrorism in this country."
"I see somebody who is acting without any sense of the history of race in this country and the necessity for us to act with some caution on such an explosive issue," Williams added.
"Haven't some of [Trump's] policies helped African Americans?" Fox host Bill Hemmer asked.
"I would take the whole picture. I can go back and start talking about the Justice Department suing him and his company and dad for discriminating against black people," Williams replied. "I can go back to the birther movement. This is a larger problem."
RealClearPolitics Columnist A.B. Stoddard agreed with Juan Williams, saying, "I think if President Trump really wanted to work with leaders on the ground to clean up Chicago and Baltimore and Detroit, we would know it."
"He attacked Elijah Cummings, someone who has worked hard to earn the respect of his Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill who is not Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, or Ocasio-Cortex. He attacked him and his city and said humans wouldn't want to live there because of the Mueller investigation," Stoddard continued. "He has a burden as president not to use racially divisive language to divide this country. He has a responsibility that he refuses to meet because he is campaigning, and that is what people saw this week."
"He insinuated that [Cummings] was on the take in Baltimore, that he was a criminal, and he accused two black men in less than 24 hours for crimes they didn’t commit," Stoddard said. "That President Obama should be investigated for a book deal? The president? And less than 24 hours later, Elijah Cummings. I don’t think this is about Baltimore."