WASHINGTON, D.C. (ABC News) – Rep. Elijah Cummings, the long-serving Democratic congressman who was deeply involved in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, has died at age 68.
Despite that, Trump tweeted his condolences and the White House lowered the flag to half-staff in his honor.
The flag was lowered at the Capitol as well — where Cummings had served since 1996, representing Maryland’s 7th Congressional District.
As chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, he had a prominent role in the ongoing impeachment inquiry. His committee has also been investigating other actions by the president, as well as Trump’s family.
His office announced that he passed away at approximately 2:45 a.m. Thursday at Johns Hopkins Hospital due to complications concerning longstanding health challenges.
He had an unspecified medical procedure on Sept. 19, causing him to miss one of his committee’s hearings. His office said at the end of September that they anticipated Cummings would be back at work when Congress returned to session.
At the time of the procedure, Cummings released the following statement through his office: “I was very disappointed to miss today’s hearing. Unfortunately, I’ve had to have a medical procedure, and my doctors expect me to be back in the office in a week or so. However, nobody should mistake my absence as a lack of commitment to D.C. to statehood or passage of H.R. 51.”
President Trump most recently sparred with Cummings over the summer, calling the lawmaker a racist and Baltimore a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”
Cummings appeared on “This Week” on July 21, where he told ABC Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos there was “no doubt” that President Trump was a racist, following the president’s attacks on Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib, known as “The Squad.”
“I was beaten and all kinds of rocks and bottles thrown at me. And the interesting thing is that I heard the same kind of chant, ‘Go home, you don’t belong here.’ And they called us the N-word over and over and over again,” Cummings said, recalling racism he had faced in the past.
“What it does when Trump does these things, it brings up the same feelings that I had over 50 something years ago, and it’s very, very painful,” Cummings said. “It’s extremely divisive and I just don’t think this is becoming of the president of the United States of America, the leader of an entire world.”
In his tweeted condolences, the president said, “My warmest condolences to the family and many friends of Congressman Elijah Cummings. I got to see first hand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader. His work and voice on so many fronts will be very hard, if not impossible, to replace!”
Other tributes poured in from across the political spectrum.