Rep. Elijah Cummings is “excited about meeting” Trump

FILE: Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, talking about staff member Katie Malone who worked as a special assistant in his Catonsville, Md. office. 

Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP

During his hastily arranged news conference, Donald Trump talked about a meeting with Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings that has yet to take place.

“I actually thought I had a meeting with Congressman Cummings, and he was all excited,” the president recalled. “And then he said, ‘Well, I can’t move, it might be bad for me politically. I can’t have that meeting.’”

“Very nice guy,” though, Mr. Trump said of Cummings. He speculated that Cummings “probably was told by Schumer or somebody like that, some other lightweight. He was probably told - he was probably told ‘don’t meet with Trump. It’s bad politics.’”

Cummings, as it turned out, watched the entire hour and 15 minute presser by the president, and he told CBS News’ Catherine Reynolds and Alan He that he didn’t expect Mr. Trump to bring up their yet-unscheduled meeting.

“I was a little bit surprised because we have been talking to his office,” he said at the Capitol Thursday. “I’m actually looking forward to meeting with the president.”

Cummings also rejected the idea that Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had urged him not to sit down with Mr. Trump.  

“[A]t 66 years old, nobody tells me what to do. And if anybody knows me they know that. All right? Period. So no, I’ve never even talked to Schumer about this issue. I make my decisions every day for myself,” the Maryland congressman declared. “If there is anybody in this body who’s independent it’s me. All right? I don’t need anyone telling me what to do.

The Baltimore, Maryland representative is eager to talk with the president about a prescription drug bill he and Sen. Bernie Sanders are proposing, one that would enable the government to negotiate better drug prices for Medicare recipients. 

Cummings admitted the president was correct that they hadn’t been able to schedule the meeting yet. But more than once he told Reynolds that Mr. Trump “is my president and I am excited about meeting with him,” adding, “He’s going to be my president for the next four years, and I look forward to working with him for my constituents. I want him to be successful.”

By that, Cummings means he wants the president to succeed in helping his constituents. That, he said, is the thing he’s focused on.

“You all can get distracted if you want to. I don’t have time to be distracted. I have people who need medicine, I’ve got people who need treatment,” Cummings said. “I got people who need to get an education....I got people at historically black colleges and universities that need support. And so...I refuse to be distracted. I’ve got to concentrate on the things that mean something to the people that I represent.”

Cummings’ district is Baltimore’s inner city. “When I leave here, I go back to a neighborhood where people are in need of their government working,” he said. “I go back to people who are concerned about their right to vote. So those are the things I’m concerned about.”

The Maryland congressman also warned journalists about maintaining a little perspective.

“I think that the press needs to be very careful. You know, you all can get distracted over here but while you are distracted over here, over here there are other things happening that the American people really care about,” Cummings said. “And I think they care about their everyday lives. How are they going to put their kids through college? You know they want their kids to do better than what they did. So when I come in these halls, I come in here with that attitude. So I don’t get insulted by things like that. I just don’t. I don’t have time. Life is too short.”