Soon after President Trump decried Rep. Elijah Cummings’ Baltimore district as “disgusting” and “rat and rodent-infested,” it came to light that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, owns rental buildings in the city that residents say are rodent infested.
Trump made his comments in a Saturday tweetstorm, claiming that “no human being would want to live” in Cummings’ city, which is majority black.
On Sunday, the Washington Post pointed out that Kushner Companies, which owns 9,000 apartments in Maryland including many Baltimore County, has been cited for hundreds of code violations. A May 2017 New York Times/ProPublica investigation found that Kushner tenants in Baltimore had complained about their apartments being infested with mice, mold and maggots.
“It is certainly ironic that the president’s own son-in-law was complicit in contributing to some of the neglect that the president purports to be so concerned about,” Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski Jr. told the Post.
The back of apartment units at Cove Village in the Baltimore suburb of Essex, Maryland. Cove Village is one of several apartment complexes in the Baltimore area owned by Jared Kushner. GETTY IMAGES
In 2017, Baltimore County officials noted Kushner’s presidential proximity when they announced Kushner Companies was being cited for more than 200 code violations. “We expect all landlords to comply with the code requirements that protect the health and safety of their tenants,” they said in a statement at the time. “Even if the landlord’s father-in-law is president of the United States.”
Shannon Darrow, a program manager at the tenant advocacy group Fair Housing Action Center of Maryland, said Trump’s attacks were ironic. “Basically, [Kushner] has been creating a race to the bottom in terms of poorly maintained properties,” she said in the Washington Post. “He’s been very, very deeply implicated.”
“Kushner Companies is proud to own thousands of apartments in the Baltimore area,” a company spokesperson said in a statement on Monday night. “Substantial amounts are constantly reinvested in the properties to maintain a high quality residential experience for our tenants.”
Cummings is the head of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which is investigating Trump and his businesses. In recent weeks, he had been vocally critical of the way the Trump administration is treating migrants at the Southern border.
On Monday, Democrats assailed Trump’s comments as racist. Baltimore Mayor Bernard Young suggested that Trump should stop tweeting and send federal help to the city. Republicans were largely silent.
But late-night hosts had plenty to say about Trump’s attacks.
“The man who told us ‘Love or or leave it’ has now attacked more cities than Godzilla,” said Jimmy Kimmel.
On Monday night’s Daily Show, Trevor Noah pointed out that Trump has a history of using the word “infested” to describe people of color, having used it in attacks on migrants at the Southern border, Rep. John Lewis’s Atlanta district, and “The Squad,” the four congresswomen of color whom Trump said should “go back” to the “crime infested places from which they came” in a Twitter attack earlier this month.