IRVING, Texas – Despite his past attacks, President Donald Trump on Thursday praised the late congressman Elijah Cummings as a strong leader who will be missed.
"My warmest condolences to the family and many friends of Congressman Elijah Cummings," Trump tweeted. "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, who died early Thursday at age 68, was chairman of the House Oversight Committee and played a key role in various investigations of Trump.
The two men often clashed.
At one point earlier this year, Trump said Cummings should pay more attention to improving conditions in his home city of Baltimore, which he described as dangerous and rat-infested.
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2019
Cummings responded to Trump: "It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents."
In remarks to his constituents, Cummings defended Baltimore and its residents: "I say to our children don't let anybody take away your hope ... I don't care who they are. And let no one define you. No one."
Elijah Cummings dies: Rep. Elijah Cummings, Capitol Hill veteran and Maryland Democrat, dies at age 68
Cummings, who represented part of his home city of Baltimore, died from what his office described as "complications concerning longstanding health challenges."
Trump is scheduled to travel to northern Texas on Thursday for a series of events, including a campaign rally in Dallas.
Before paying tribute to Cummings, Trump sent out other tweets and re-tweets featuring criticisms of Democratic political policies, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the news media.
Within minutes of the Cummings tweet, Trump posted more defenses of his Syria policy and attacks on the ongoing impeachment investigation of his dealings with Ukraine. Of the latter, he said: "The Greatest Witch Hunt in American History!"
Cummings supported impeachment, saying Trump abused his office by asking Ukraine and China to investigate U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden.
"When the history books are written about this tumultuous era," he said on Sept. 24, "I want them to show that I was among those in the House of Representatives who stood up to lawlessness and tyranny."
Earlier in the day, White House counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway tweeted a tribute to the late congressman.
"Sad to learn of the passing of longtime, passionate public servant Rep. Elijah Cummings," Conway said. "May he Rest In Peace. Lifting up his family, friends and colleagues in prayer."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Elijah Cummings death: Trump says Democrat will be hard to replace