The passing of House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings leaves a vacancy in the leadership of the congressional impeachment inquiry, as the powerful Democrat was spearheading the efforts alongside Adam Schiff and Eliot Engel.
Cummings, a native of Maryland, passed away early Thursday morning “due to complications concerning long-standing health challenges,” his office said in a statement. The late congressman had been in poor health over the past few years, navigating the Capitol in a motorized cart and with a walker.
Cummings, along with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., was leading an inquiry of impeachment— sending subpoenas, document requests, and conducting interviews with Trump administration officials who could hold information pertinent to the effort.
President Trump, who was the subject of not only the impeachment inquiry, but other investigations led by Cummings and his committee, sent his condolences to the Cummings family and friends.
“I got to see firsthand the strength, passion, and wisdom of this highly respected political leader,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning. “His work and voice on so many fronts will be very hard, if not impossible, to replace!”
Cummings and Trump had a disagreement after the President criticized his district as a “rodent-infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.” Trump’s statement appeared to be in response to Cummings criticism of Trump’s policies at the border.
Cummings 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.
The death of Cummings has truly affected many politicians and Americans. As news spread of Cummings’ passing on Thursday, the Oversight Committee postponed a planned hearing, and House Republicans canceled a press conference where they planned to lambast Democrats over the impeachment inquiry and said it would be rescheduled.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Elijah Cummings, a man of great consequence and significance on the Oversight Committee for the last twenty years,” Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said in a statement Thursday. “He injected an unyielding passion and purpose into his work on the Committee.”