Cummings died early on Thursday after complications from longstanding health challenges [Patrick Semansky/AP]

Maryland Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings died on Thursday at Johns Hopkins Hospital after complications from longstanding health challenges, his congressional office said.

Cummings, who was 68, became the powerful chairman of a US House committee that investigated President Donald Trump, and was a formidable orator who passionately advocated for the poor in his district that encompassed a large portion of Baltimore.

As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings led multiple investigations into Trump’s governmental dealings.

The investigations angered the president, who criticised the congressman’s district in 2019 as a “rodent-infested mess” where “no human being would want to live”.

Cummings responded that government officials must stop making

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