BALTIMORE (REUTERS) - Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Friday (Oct 25) praised the late Elijah Cummings, a leading force in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, as someone who “stood against corrupt leadership.”
The former Democratic lawmaker’s funeral drew a Who’s Who of Democratic leaders past and present to the New Psalmist Baptist church in Cummings’ hometown of Baltimore, as well as thousands of other supporters.
Former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, as well as 2020 Democratic candidates like Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, were among those attending the funeral.
A son of sharecroppers, Cummings served for 22 years in the US House of Representatives before his death on Oct 17.
He was an ardent civil rights voice who decades ago endured violence from white mobs as he and other African-Americans sought to integrate a public swimming pool.
The 13-term congressman was credited with helping calm tensions in Baltimore in 2015 when violence erupted following the death of an African-American man in police custody.
He was a high-profile antagonist of Trump, who reacted to a weekend of deadly violence during a “Unite the Right” rally in Virginia saying there were “very fine people” on both sides of the demonstrations.
The funeral was being held in Cummings’ congressional district, which Trump vilified earlier this year as “disgusting, rat and rodent-infested.”
Cummings responded at the time by saying Trump should visit his majority-black congressional district. “I’ll ride with him for hours... I want him to see all of the wonderful things that are happening.”
Trump, who is scheduled to speak at a historically black college in South Carolina, did not plan to attend the funeral, the White House said on Thursday. No information was available as to whether he had been invited, and it was not clear if other administration officials would attend.
US race relations are sure to be a contentious topic during the upcoming 2020 presidential election season in which Democrats aim to unseat Trump.
They hope to win over the votes of African-Americans who could play an important role in determining the outcome, along with growing Hispanic communities throughout the United States.
As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings before his death led a series of investigations of Trump’s administration and business dealings.
He had been a central figure in Democrats’ ongoing impeachment inquiry on the president’s dealings with Ukraine.