Trump’s ‘rat-infested’ attack on lawmaker was racist, says Pelosi

Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi has accused US President Donald Trump of "racist attacks" in his tweets about an African-American lawmaker.

Mr Trump attacked Democratic Rep Elijah Cummings and his Maryland district on Twitter.

The president described Mr Cummings' majority-black district in Baltimore as a "rodent-infested mess".

Mr Cummings was a "bully", Mr Trump wrote, for criticising the treatment of migrants at the US-Mexico border.

As chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Mr Cummings has instigated a series of investigations into the Trump administration's policies, including its handling of migrants at detention centres.

Ms Pelosi led Democratic legislators in defending Mr Cummings and condemning Trump's tweets.

The tweets, Ms Pelosi wrote, were "racist attacks" on Mr Cummings, whose district's population is more than 50% black according to US census data.

President Trump's remarks come just weeks after he was criticised for another tweet telling "'progressive' Democrat congresswomen" to "go back" to the "crime infested" places they came from.

The message was aimed at four lawmakers of colour - Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Ilhan Omar - all of whom are US citizens.

What sparked Mr Trump's latest tweets?

Last week, Mr Cummings lashed out at acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and conditions at migrant detention centres at a congressional hearing.

In a heated exchange with Mr McAleenan, Mr Cummings demanded "improvement" at border facilities.

Mr Cummings, who represents Maryland's 7th congressional district, suggested the Trump administration had "an empathy deficit" in its handling of migrants.

The tweets also come days after a Democratic-led congressional committee voted to subpoena the private communications of senior White House officials.

Mr Cummings accused the Trump administration of not keeping communications records in compliance with federal law.

The committee's investigation is one of several being pursued by House Democrats into the president and his administration.

What further reaction has there been to Mr Trump's tweets?

A prolific critic of Mr Trump, Mr Cummings has responded in kind, tweeting: "It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents."

In another tweet, Baltimore's mayor, Bernard "Jack" Young, called Mr Trump "a disappointment to the people" of his city, and to "our country, and to the world".

The response from Republican Party representatives has been muted so far.

But many other Democrats have derided Mr Trump's latest remarks.

Joe Biden, the frontrunner to challenge Trump in 2020's presidential election, scorned the president's tweets as an example of why he is "unfit to hold the office"

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