U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, who died Thursday morning, tangled repeatedly with President Donald Trump over the past few years.
The two men clashed from the start, and the conflicts intensified after Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, putting Cummings in the chairman’s seat of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which is investigating the president’s actions.
Here are some of the memorable exchanges between the Democratic congressman from Baltimore and the Republican developer who became president.
1. January 2017: From inauguration to fighting back
It did not take long for the confrontational Cummings-Trump dynamic to develop.
At that point, Cummings was mainly concerned with Trump’s call for an investigation of the 2016 election and assertion that millions of people voted illegally. He said he also was concerned about White House memos that aimed to prevent federal workers from communicating with members of Congress.
Early on in Trump’s presidency, Cummings blasted the president for instituting a hiring freeze for non-military federal workers. With that action, Trump “showed just what kind of a boss he intends to be,” the congressman said.
“On his first day he targeted middle-class people who work for the American public, making their lives harder and more stressful,” Cummings said. “Working families in Maryland beware: This is a signal to bosses everywhere to do the same.”
Still, Cummings was trying to find common ground with the president.
“I have a duty to work with this president,” Cummings told reporters. “He is going to be my president and your president for the next four years at least.”
2. February-March 2017: A meeting planned or cancelled?
Not long into Trump’s tenure, Cummings said he wanted to meet with the president to discuss prescription drug prices — one area where the two men might find shared purpose.
Before the meeting took place, Trump said Cummings canceled for political reasons.
The congressman also said that he was working to draft a bill about drug prices, so he would have a proposal to share with the president at the meeting, which ended up taking place on March 8.
3. March 2017: Cummings presses POTUS on ‘hurtful’ comments
When Cummings and Trump finally had a sit-down meeting at the White House in March 2017 to talk about prescription drug prices, Cummings used part of his time to criticize Trump for comments about African-American communities that the congressman called “hurtful” and “insulting.”
"I said to him, 'Mr. President, most respectfully, when you're talking about the African-American community, I want you to realize that all African-American communities are not places of depression, where people are being harmed,' " Cummings said in an interview. "I think it would be good for him to acknowledge that most African-American people are doing very, very well."
A White House summary of the meeting did not include Cummings’ comments.
“During my meeting with the president and on several occasions since then, I have said repeatedly that he could be a great president if — if — he takes steps to truly represent all Americans rather than continuing on the divisive and harmful path he is currently on,” Cummings said in a statement.
5. May 2018: Cummings runs out of patience with Trump official
Cummings asked John M. Gore, an acting assistant attorney general, whether then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions had a hand in writing the citizenship question.
When Gore said he could not answer, Cummings shouted: “I asked you did you talk to your boss! You mean you’re going to tell me that you can’t answer a question as to whether you talked to your boss who we pay?”
U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell, Michigan Republican, suggested Gore had been treated harshly at the hearing.
“Unfortunately sometimes it degenerates here,” he said.
6. October 2018: Trump pushes back against conflict of interest claim
When the FBI abandoned its search for a new headquarters last year — dashing the hopes of Maryland officials who tried to lure the project here — Cummings alleged Trump made the decision for his own personal gain.
The subpoena sought years of records, communications and notes related to Trump’s finances.
“The Democrat Party, with its newfound control of the U.S. House of Representatives, has declared all-out political war against President Donald J. Trump," the lawsuit alleged. “Subpoenas are their weapon of choice.”
Cummings responded in a statement saying that Trump “has a long history of trying to use baseless lawsuits to attack his adversaries, but there is simply no valid legal basis to interfere with this duly authorized subpoena from Congress.”
8. July 2019: ‘No doubt about it,’ Trump is a racist
During a television interview in July — just before Trump went on a days-long, anti-Baltimore tirade — Cummings was asked directly if he thought the president is a racist.
“If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous & filthy place,” the president’s tweet continued.
Trump also tweeted: “Why is so much money sent to the Elijah Cummings district when it is considered the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States. No human being would want to live there. Where is all this money going? How much is stolen? Investigate this corrupt mess immediately!”
Many jumped to the defense of Baltimore and the congressman. Cummings himself was measured. He addressed the president’s remarks with a few tweets of his own.
“Mr. President, I go home to my district daily. Each morning, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neighbors. It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents,” Cummings wrote on Twitter.
Cummings also tweeted about prescription drug costs: “Mr. President, we can address this together. Two years ago, I went to the White House to ask you to endorse my bill to let the government negotiate directly for lower drug prices.”
Mr. President, I go home to my district daily. Each morning, I wake up, and I go and fight for my neighbors.
It is my constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. But, it is my moral duty to fight for my constituents.
“I got to see first hand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader,” the president tweeted. “His work and voice on so many fronts will be very hard, if not impossible, to replace!”
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!