White House, Capitol flags flown at half-staff following Cummings death

White House, Capitol flags flown at half-staff following Cummings death
© Greg Nash

The flags at the White House and U.S. Capitol were lowered to half-staff on Thursday morning to honor the late Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsMaryland postpones primary over coronavirus fears Maryland governor: 'Simply not enough supplies' on hand to tackle coronavirus Meadows joins White House facing reelection challenges MORE (D-Md.).

Both flags were lowered after news broke overnight that Cummings, the powerful chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, had died at the age of 68 due to what his office described as “complications concerning longstanding health challenges.”

In a presidential proclamation later released by the White House, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump fires intelligence community inspector general who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint Trump organization has laid off over 1000 employees due to pandemic: report Trump invokes Defense Production Act to prevent export of surgical masks, gloves MORE ordered flags at White House and all U.S. public grounds, military posts and naval stations and vessels to be flown at half-staff through Friday “as a mark of respect for the memory and longstanding public service” of the Maryland congressman.

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Cummings’s death inspired an outpouring of statements recognizing the late congressman for his character and legacy and mourning his passing.

Trump, who has sparred with Cummings at various points during his administration, offered his condolences in an early morning tweet, recognizing the late Maryland congressman for his “strength, passion and wisdom” and calling him a “highly respected political leader.”

“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!” the president tweeted.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump says he opposes mail-in voting for November On The Money: Economy sheds 701K jobs in March | Why unemployment checks could take weeks | Confusion surrounds 9B in small-business loans The bipartisan neutering of the Congressional Budget Office MORE (D-Calif.) said in a statement that she was “personally devastated by his passing” and described him as the “North Star” in the House of Representatives.

“He was a leader of towering character and integrity, whose stirring voice and steadfast values pushed the Congress and country to rise always to a higher purpose,” Pelosi said. “His principled leadership as Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform was the perfect testament to his commitment to restoring honesty and honor to government, and leaves a powerful legacy for years to come.”

Maryland’s Republican governor, Larry Hogan, ordered flags in his state to fly at half-staff in honor of Cummings, extending his “deepest sympathies” to Cummings’s family, friends and colleagues.

Cummings had represented Maryland's 7th District in Congress, which includes much of Baltimore, since 1996.

Cummings, who was already widely respected and known in Washington, captured national attention as he played a key role in investigations into Trump and his administration. Tensions between Cummings and Trump reached a high point over the summer, as the president attacked him as a “racist” and a “bully” and accused him of failing to address the problems in Baltimore.

--This report was updated at 12:11 p.m.