BALTIMORE (AP) - Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings died early Thursday at Johns Hopkins Hospital due to complications from longstanding health challenges, his congressional office said. He was 68.
A sharecropper's son, Cummings became the powerful chairman of a U.S. House committee that investigated President Donald Trump, and was a formidable orator who passionately advocated for the poor in his district that encompassed a large portion of Baltimore.
As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings led multiple investigations into Trump's governmental dealings. The investigations angered the president, who criticized the congressman's district in 2019 as a "rodent-infested mess" where "no human being would want to live."
Cummings responded that government officials must stop making "hateful, incendiary comments" that only serve to divide and distract the nation from its real problems.
Maya Rockeymoore Cummings
The death of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings early Thursday has made a widow of Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the chair of Maryland's Democratic Party.
She released a statement, calling her husband "an honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion and humility."
She says 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."
She says "It has been an honor to walk by his side on this incredible journey. I loved him deeply and will miss him dearly."
Politicians are sharing their thoughts on the death of Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Maryland Democrat whose House committee is investigating President Donald Trump.
House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn said Cummings' "calm but firm hand will be missed on the Oversight Committee as it proceeds with the difficult work ahead."
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Cummings a "dedicated public servant." And Sen. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, said Cummings "stood as a symbol for the heights one could reach if they paid no mind to obstacles, naysayers and hate."
Maryland Senate President Mike Miller called Cummings an icon and one of the people he most admired in Maryland politics.
And Baltimore Mayor Jack Young says Cummings was a gifted social justice crusader. The mayor said Cummings wasn't afraid to speak out "against brutal dictators bent on oppression, unscrupulous business executives who took advantage of unsuspecting customers, or even a U.S. President. He was, put simply, a man of God who never forgot his duty to fight for the rights and dignity of the marginalized and often forgotten."
President Donald Trump's campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh is expressing sadness about the death of Cummings.
Murtaugh called the Maryland Democrat an "American icon for sure," but Trump and the chairman of the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee had a rocky relationship at best. The committee's investigations of Trump raised the ire of the president who recently called Cummings' district in Baltimore a "rodent-infested mess."
Murtaugh tweeted that "at times like this you put "differences aside." Speaking for the Trump campaign, Murtaugh expressed condolences to Cummings' family and friends.