The death of Rep. Elijiah Cummings (D-Md.), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, led coverage on the morning shows today, including a personal reflection by Morning Joe hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski: Cummings was the celebrant at Scarborough and Brzezinski’s wedding last year.
Cummings, 68, died early this morning after “complications from longstanding health challenges.”
“We are personally heartbroken this morning,” Brzezinski said on the show as she and Scarborough paid tribute to Cummings.
“We were honored that Elijiah agreed to marry Mika and me last year,” Scarborough said. “It seemed just perfect. He was just perfect. It was so great to have him, our dear friend there. We were even more grateful for the public service that he so selflessly committed his life to, every day of his life.
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“He will now be mourned and his remarkable life will be celebrated and his work, his work, it will be completed. That is the very least that this country owes to Elijiah Cummings during these dark days and troubled times.”
President Donald Trump tweeted about his passing, writing “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!”
Cummings’ committee was among those pursuing an impeachment inquiry of the president. In July, Trump blasted Cummings in more than a dozen tweets, as Cummings pursued a number of investigations in his role as the oversight chairman. Trump called Cummings’ Baltimore district a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” In a speech at the National Press Club about a week later, Cummings said that “those in the highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior.”
Cummings presided over one of the highest profile hearings on Capitol Hill this year, when Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen testified before the Oversight Committee about an array of claims against the president. After that hearing in February, Cummings told reporters that “200 to 300 years from now, people will look back at this moment and they will ask the question, what did you do.”
“I may be dancing with the angels when all of this is corrected, but I have got to tell you, we must fight for democracy,” Cummings said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered all flags at the Capitol at half staff in tribute to Cummings.
His death comes as the House continues to hear from witnesses and seek additional testimony in their impeachment inquiry. It centers on a July 17 phone call that Trump had with the president of Ukraine. Trump asked the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company when his father was vice president.
Even as his health declined, Cummings continued to be a visible figure at the Capitol. Appearing on CNN’s New Day, April Ryan, political analyst for the network, said that “When he was in the walker and the wheelchair, he was still fighting. When they smeared his name, he was still fighting for the American people.” She was a friend of Cummings from early in his career.
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