Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat who was battling cancer, disappeared from public view in mid-September. He first missed a roll call vote Sept. 12, then failed to appear Sept. 19 to chair a meeting of his House Oversight and Reform Committee on statehood for the District of Columbia.
But he continued to sign subpoenas and letters to the Trump administration in the days before his death Thursday while in hospice care.
“Elijah Cummings was signing Trump impeachment-related subpoenas from his hospital bed,” tweeted George Takei, the former “Star Trek” television actor and a vocal critic of Republican President Donald Trump. “Be like Elijah Cummings.”
University of Maryland law professor Larry Gibson, who knew Cummings for more than 50 years, credits Cummings and his committee staff for doing substantial groundwork while he was ill. The committee is one of three House panels leading the impeachment inquiry of Trump.
“I’ve never seen somebody who is supposedly under the weather kick so much butt," Gibson wrote Sept. 29 in an email to Cummings.
“I hope you’re following your doctor’s orders," Gibson wrote. "I will be in Alabama for a week beginning Tuesday [Oct. 1]. Don’t impeach Trump before I get back. Your brother, Larry.”
Cummings responded: “Call me.”
According to Cummings’ aides and his committee staff, these five things are among the work Cummings did in the last weeks of his life:
- Cummings was among three Democratic committee chairmen to sign a letter Sept. 27 accompanying a subpoena seeking documents from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo related to an inquiry into whether Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, the former vice president. Cummings also signed letters seeking subpoenas from other officials on Oct. 4, Oct. 7 and Oct. 8 related to the impeachment investigation.
- On Oct. 8, Cummings sponsored legislation with other lawmakers to expand federal, state, and local initiatives to improve care for people with asthma.
- Cummings issued a statement Oct. 11 applauding an appeals court ruling that Trump’s accounting firm must turn over financial documents his committee was seeking.
- On Oct. 15, Cummings and other Democratic committee chairmen wrote administration officials of their “profound concerns” about Trump’s decision to withdraw forces from northeast Syria.
- The day before he died, Cummings signed subpoenas Oct. 16 seeking testimony and documents related to a Trump administration’s proposal to deport critically ill children. Although the administration withdrew the plan last month, Cummings wrote in a memo to his committee members that the panel’s investigation “may inform legislative reforms that the House may consider, such as legislation to protect critically ill children and others.”