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Elijah Cummings, the Congressman from Maryland and one of the main Democrats leading the charge to impeach the president, has died. He was 68 years old.

Cummings passed away early Thursday morning “due to complications concerning longstanding health challenges,” according to an announcement released by Cummings’ congressional office. He had been a respected Congressman for more than 20 years.

The unexpected announcement came after Cummings, the ranking chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, recently announced that he was having a medical procedure but never returned to his Capitol Hill offices afterward, according to the Baltimore Sun. That announcement came on Sept. 30 and said that he was only expected to miss about two weeks of work.

Tuesday would have been his first day back to work following his medical procedure. Instead, he ended up missing that day’s House roll call vote.

Prior to the medical procedure, Cummings has been embroiled in a feud with President Donald Trump, who the target of a Democratic-led impeachment inquiry championed by the Maryland Congressman. Trump had been attacking Cummings with dog-whistling insults. Back in July, the president called Baltimore, a predominately Black city that Cummings represents and has called home since birth, “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” and disparaging the Congressman in a tweet that many people called racist.

According to his official House bio, Cummings “began his career of public service in the Maryland House of Delegates, where he served for 14 years and became the first African American in Maryland history to be named Speaker Pro Tem. Since 1996, Congressman Cummings has proudly represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

Cummings is survived by his wife, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, and their three children.

Cummings had been hospitalized last year after he was admitted to Johns Hopkins Hospital for a bacterial infection in his knee, which the congressman’s office described at the time as a minor procedure. That hospitalization prompted his wife to suspend her Democratic primary campaign for Maryland governor in January of 2018. Prior to that, Cummings was hospitalized in May of 2017 after undergoing “minimally invasive” heart surgery. It was a procedure to correct a narrowing of the aortic valve. It was unclear if his death early Thursday morning was related to either of those procedures.

At the time, rumors swirled in Baltimore that Cummings was planning to retire.

Those rumors turned out to be unfounded and Cummings returned stronger than ever to lead the charge into what has now become an impeachment inquiry that moved his House colleagues closer to holding a vote to impeach Trump.

Cummings was resolute in his commitment to uphold the Constitution and hold the president responsible for his apparent transgressions that have bordered on treason. He said the American people deserved better.

“They want accountability with regard to this president, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do if I’m blessed to have that opportunity,” the congressman said at the time.


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