Congressman Elijah Cummings Dead: Central Figure in Trump Impeachment Inquiry Dies Aged 68

Congressman Elijah Cummings has died aged 68. The representative for Maryland's 7th Congressional district was a key figure in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

His office said in a statement that he had died at John Hopkins Hospital following ongoing medical issues.

Cummings had been away from work since undergoing a medical procedure in September that his office had initially suggested would only keep him away from his role for a week, The Baltimore Sun reported.

In a statement released in September, Cummings had said: "I am recovering following my medical procedure and remain in constant communication with my staff and my colleagues in the Congress.

"My doctors anticipate that I will be returning to Washington, DC when the House comes back into session in two weeks."

His office did not disclose what medical procedure Rep. Cummings had undergone.

Sad, breaking news: Congressman Elijah Cummings has died. @ABC

— Kenneth Moton (@KennethMoton) October 17, 2019

As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings had a key role in the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Indeed, Cummings had recently issued a subpoena for documents relating to the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which Trump allegedly pressured the foreign leader to investigate a potential political rival. Trump has denied the allegations and claims there was no pressure or "quid pro quo" in the call.

Cummings had also been involved in previous Oversight Committee investigations into the president, including looking into family members of the president who have roles in the White House, The Associated Press reported.

The Congressman had previously sparred with President Trump over conditions on the U.S. southern border in which migrant children were held, with Trump slammed for responding to Cummings by criticizing his Baltimore district as "rat infested."

Cummings offered to show Trump around his district and see the wonderful things that were happening there, as well as calling on leaders to stop using language rooted in racism.

"Those in the highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behaviour," The Guardian reported Cummings saying.

Following the spat, in which Cummings suggested the president help to solve the problems facing families in his district, the Congressman was described by Baltimore Mayor Jack Young as "a patriot and a hero."

Condolences have begun to pour out for the Congressman, with former Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Donna Brazile writing on Twitter: "#ElijahCummings was one of the most honorable, selfless public servant who cared deeply for others. A powerful force for change. We will miss you brother. #WeAreBaltimore. Rest in power."

#ElijahCummings was one of the most honorable, selfless public servant who cared deeply for others. A powerful force for change. We will miss you brother. #WeAreBaltimore.

Rest in power.

— Donna Brazile (@donnabrazile) October 17, 2019

More to follow.