Rep. Elijah Cummings, the long-serving Democratic congressman from Maryland, died early Thursday morning at the age of 68.
Cummings died at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital at 2:45 a.m. Thursday “due to complications concerning longstanding health challenges,” the lawmaker’s office said in a statement, according to WBAL TV 11.
Cummings, who had served in the House since 1996, was chair of the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee, one of the three House panels leading the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump.
House lawmakers are investigating whether Trump used the power of his office to pressure the president of Ukraine to help him get dirt on Joe Biden, Trump’s potential political rival.
However, as the Associated Press explains, Cummings and Trump had been bumping heads for some time, with Cummings’ committee hard at work investigating Trump’s—and his family members’—many dealings for any signs of impropriety.
As the Washington Post notes, Cummings was a “leading voice against the Trump administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.” He also spoke out forcefully against the separation of children from their migrant parents at the southern U.S. border, describing as inhumane the Trump administration’s “child internment camps.”
Cummings and Trump particularly clashed this year when Trump tried to come for Baltimore—Cummings’ hometown and the predominantly black city within his district—in a tweet as being a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested place.”
Per AP, Cummings, who served as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus from 2003 to 2004, replied:
that government officials must stop making “hateful, incendiary comments” that only serve to divide and distract the nation from its real problems, including mass shootings and white supremacy.
“Those in the highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior,” Cummings said in a speech at the National Press Club.
Reactions to Cummings’ early-morning death began to pour in as news spread, from his local constituents to pundits, politicians, entertainers and the like: