PHOTOS: Elijah Cummings's political timeline of the civil rights champion

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., gestures during a press conference to support the Civil Rights Act of 2004. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP)

Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a sharecropper’s son who rose to become a civil rights champion and the chairman of one of the U.S. House committees leading an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, died Thursday of complications from long-standing health problems. He was 68.

Cummings was a formidable orator who advocated for the poor in his black-majority district, which encompasses a large portion of Baltimore and more well-to-do suburbs.

As chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Cummings led investigations of the president’s governmental dealings, including probes in 2019 relating to Trump’s family members serving in the White House.

Trump criticized the Democrat’s district as a “rodent-infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.” The comments came weeks after Trump drew bipartisan condemnation following his calls for Democratic congresswomen of color to get out of the U.S. “right now,” and go back to their “broken and crime-infested countries.”

Cummings replied that government officials must stop making “hateful, incendiary comments” that distract the nation from its real problems, including mass shootings and white supremacy.

“Those in the highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior,” Cummings said.

On Thursday morning, Trump tweeted his “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.” The brief tweet made no reference to past feuds. (AP)

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A 1973 portrait of Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings. (Photo: Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)
Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, left, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. (Photo: Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)
A 1985 portrait of Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings. (Photo: Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)
Rep. Elijah Cummings and Sen. Barbara Mikulski in 1988. (Photo: Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)
Politician Elijah Cummings of Maryland voting in 1994. (Photo: Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)
Rep. Elijah Cummings speaking in Maryland before the 2000 primary election. (Photo: Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)
President George W. Bush hosts a meeting about domestic education issues with Congressional Black Caucus members at the White House in 2001. From left: Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Bush and Rep. Elijah Cummings. (Photo: Larry Downing/Reuters)
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., gestures during a press conference in Washington to support the Civil Rights Act of 2004. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP)
Rep. Elijah Cummings speaks during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. (Photo: Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty Images)
Rep. Elijah Cummings speaks during a 2014 press conference by Democratic members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi. From left: Rep. Adam Smith, Rep. Linda Sánchez, Cummings, Rep. Adam Schiff and Rep. Tammy Duckworth. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Rep. Elijah Cummings delivers remarks in 2015 during the funeral of Freddie Gray at the New Shiloh Baptist Church in Baltimore. An attorney for Gray, who was arrested in April of that year for possessing a switchblade knife, said his client died a week after his arrest from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., left, and the committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., sit before the House Rules Committee in June 2012. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Congressional staff members, joined by Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., second from left, gather in 2014 at the Capitol to raise awareness after the recent killings of black men by police officers. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton hugs House Select Committee on Benghazi ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings at the conclusion of a hearing on Capitol Hill in 2015. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP)
Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland in April 2017. (Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, asks Republican colleagues to intervene in the separation of immigrant families at the border, during opening remarks at a joint hearing in June 2018. (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings makes closing remarks after testimony in February from Michael Cohen, former attorney and fixer for President Trump, on Capitol Hill. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings addresses members of the National Press Club in August. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Black fabric drapes the doorway of Rep. Elijah Cummings’s office in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 17. (Photo: Shawn Thew/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
Flowers left by neighbor Mary Bianchi are seen outside Rep. Elijah Cummings’s home in Baltimore on Oct. 17. (Photo: Julio Cortez/AP)

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