Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., died at an affiliate of Johns Hopkins Hospital early Thursday as a result of “complications from longstanding health challenges,” his office said in a statement. He was 68.
Cummings was chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, one of the major congressional committees involved in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
The Baltimore Sun reported Wednesday afternoon that Cummings had not returned to his office as expected following a medical procedure.
His office had not disclosed what sort of procedure Cummings underwent. He died at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Baltimore.
His office did not respond to the Sun’s requests for comment at the time.
Cummings missed a committee hearing Sept. 19 regarding statehood for the District of Columbia as a result of his ongoing health issues.
The lawmaker played a key role in impeachment efforts targeting Trump, calling for the inquiry in September and leading multiple probes into the president. Trump sued the congressman in April to block a subpoena demanding that the president disclose his financial records.
Cummings, elected to Congress in 1996, represented a portion of Baltimore. He was previously an attorney and state lawmaker.
The problems in Baltimore during Cummings’ youth, a time of racial tensions in the 1950s, inspired him to become a lawyer and lawmaker. The fictional television show about a lawyer, “Perry Mason,” also served as inspiration, The Washington Post reported.
Before being elected to Congress, Cummings made history in the Maryland House of Delegates by becoming the youngest chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus.
During his 14 years in Annapolis, he also became the first black man to serve as speaker pro tempore, who presides if the speaker is absent. Cummings was first elected to the House of Delegates in 1983.
He became well known for being one of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chief defenders in 2015 during probes into how she handled the September 2012 attacks on U.S. government facilities in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, the Post reported.
That same year, Cummings also gained notoriety for taking to the streets of Baltimore with a bullhorn to calm riots in his neighborhood following the funeral of Freddie Gray, a black man who died while in police custody, NPR reported.
The lawmaker was frequently seen in the news over the past few months for his battle with Trump over conditions in his Baltimore district, which the president called a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” in July.
“Mr. President, I go home to my district daily. Each morning, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neighbors,” Cummings replied on Twitter. “It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents.”
The dispute highlighted problems in Cummings’s district, including its trash problem, and sparked people from around the country to organize clean-up efforts in an attempt to help residents in his district.
Cummings is survived by his wife, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who is chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party, and three children.
Maya Cummings, who married the lawmaker in 2008, has come under scrutiny for her charity and nonprofit. An IRS complaint in June accused her of self-dealing and perjury after financial disclosures showed dealings between her charity and a nonprofit consulting firm.
The complaint accused Maya Cummings’ charity, the Center for Global Policy Solutions, of overlapping with her nonprofit Global Policy Solutions, LLC. The result could be that the couple was receiving an “illegal private benefit,” the complaint noted.
Documents previously obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation show that Cummings’ wife used her charity to fund her nonprofit.
“He [Elijah Cummings] worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity and that our nation’s diversity was our promise, not our problem,” Maya Cummings said in a formal statement. “I loved him deeply and will miss him dearly.”
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