Over the weekend, President Trump blasted the city of Baltimore as being “infested” with vermin as part of his spat with one of the Congressmen leading the investigation into his alleged obstruction of justice, Rep. Elijah Cummings (0-Maryland) who represents the city.
Before calling Baltimore infested, though, the president might want to take a look at his own properties.
The website The Bedbug Registry collects user-submitted bedbug sightings across the United States and Canada, and has reported on more than 20,000 instances at 12,000 locations. A shocking number of those locations are Trump-branded properties. While there are 93 Trump-branded properties listed on the bedbug registry, visitors to at least six locations have reported experiencing bedbugs.
These are user-submitted reports, but the Bedbug Registry has been able to substantiate several. Trump International Hotels and Towers in both Chicago and New York; Trump SoHo in New York; Harbor View Trump Marina, Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort and that casino’s Chairman Tower in Atlantic City, New Jersey all have substantial reports of being infested with bedbugs.
“I woke up on Friday November 16, 2012, with three large itchy welts on my stomach and back. The welts were made up of several smaller bites, clustered in each area,” a visitor to the Trump SoHo wrote in 2012. “Over the next few days, I notified the hotel as the bites became itchier and more sensitive. The hotel was almost non-responsive to the report has now been over a week from the contact. They seemed un-concerned and un-willing to determine the cause, understand the situation and make any attempts to deal with the situation.”
It is true that Baltimore has had a problem with rodents, as explored in the 2016 documentary “Rat Film.” But as CNN’s Victor Blackwell pointed out, this likely is not the president’s point — Trump uses the word “infested” to describe anything from crime to poverty, and to draw analogies between classes of people he dislikes to actual pests and vermin. This kind of use of the word isn’t exactly Trumpian — it’s been used that way for centuries.
It should be noted, therefore, that not only do Trump properties have infestations of their own that are notoriously hard to contain, but a large number of the properties dealing with rodent infestations in Baltimore are actually owned by the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner (also a senior White House adviser).
But Blackwell drew line from the comments about Baltimore’s “infestation” to the president’s remarks that four Congresswomen of color (three of whom were born in America) should “go back” to where they came from, to calling African countries dealing with Ebola “infested” in 2014. These countries are also presumably the “shithole countries” in Africa the president decried). Trump has also complained that cities that don’t cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are “infested with crime.” This led Blackwell to conclude that “infestation” is just another flavor of what he characterizes as Trump’s overtly racist rhetoric.
It isn’t the Ebola or the rodents or the crime, argues Blackwell — it’s the people that are the infestation Trump cannot stand.
“The president says about Congressman Cummings district that no human would want to live there,” Blackwell said. “You know who did, Mr. President? I did. From the day I was brought home from the hospital to the day I left for college, a lot of people I care about still do. There are challenges, no doubt, but people are proud of their community.
“I don’t want to sound self-righteous, but people get up and go to work there. They care for their families there,” he continued. “They love their children who pledge allegiance to the flag just like people who live in districts of congressmen who support you, sir. They are Americans, too.”
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.