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Rep Elijah Cummings, Baltimore Democrat and Key Figure in Impeachment Inquiry, Dies at 68

The 23-year House veteran chaired the Oversight and Reform Committee

U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Baltimore Democrat who chaired the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee, died Thursday at age 68, his office said in a statement.

Cummings died at Maryland’s Johns Hopkins Hospital at 2:45 a.m. from “complications concerning longstanding health challenges,” according to his office, weeks after an unspecified medical procedure kept him away from Washington. In recent years, he has undergone both heart and knee surgery.

A 23-year veteran of the House of Representatives, he has emerged as a key player in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump — who has frequently lashed out at Cummings as his committee stepped up investigations of his administration. In July, Trump lashed out at Cummings, calling his Baltimore district “rat and rodent infested” and a “very dangerous & filthy place” where “no human being would want to live.”

Cummings tweeted in response: “Mr. President, I go home to my district daily. Each morning, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neighbors. It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents.”

The son of South Carolina sharecroppers with fourth grade educations who moved north, where dad worked in a chemical plant and mom as a domestic, Cummings graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Howard University before earning a law degree at the University of Maryland, according to a “60 Minutes” profile.

When riots broke out in Baltimore four years ago after a young black man, Freddie Gray, was fatally injured in the back of a police van, Cummings walked the neighborhoods of his inner-city district trying to maintain calm.

He also commuted to the Capitol from the Baltimore row-house where he had lived for 37 years. “I like to be among my constituents,” he told “60 Minutes” correspondent Steve Kroft. “Let me tell you something, man, if I don’t do well in this block I’m in trouble.”

A funeral for Cummings is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 25 in Baltimore.