"Face the Nation" remembers: Elijah Cummings' most memorable appearances

Rep. Elijah Cummings dies at 68

Longtime Baltimore Congressman Elijah Cummings and frequent guest of "Face the Nation" has died at age 68 from "complications concerning longstanding health challenges," his office said early Thursday. Widely respected across the political spectrum, Cummings was remembered for being an ardent defender of the Constitution and vocal about wrongdoing in Washington. 

During his many appearances on "Face the Nation", Cummings was honest and open about his disagreements with the Trump administration but hopeful about the role Congress has to play in representing the needs of the American people. A top Democrat serving as House Oversight and Reform Committee chairman, the 23-year House veteran was a key figure in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump and a recent target of intense criticism from the president.

After news of his passing, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered the flags at the Capitol to be flown at half staff in his memory. The White House, too, lowered its flag.

Here are some of his more memorable moments from his time on set with "Face the Nation":

Cummings gets frank on racism in policing with Schieffer

January 4: Schumer, Coons, and Cummings


  • In the wake of the 2014 shooting death of NYPD officer Wenjian Liu who was ambushed while on the job, Cummings opened up to Face the Nation's own Bob Schieffer about the existing tensions between African American communities and the police. 
  • What Cummings said: "Bob, no doubt about it. They have a dangerous job. I have policemen in my family. And there's little room for error. But I think what we have to make folks realize is that we -- police realize -- it's not an us against them. And the community must realize it's not an us against them. It's us working together. And so trust has to be established."
  • "We have got to show that it's a win-win situation. I say police and community, it's not about moving to common ground. We're beyond that. We have got to move to higher ground, because this has got to be a win-win for everybody."

Cummings says removing confederate flags "not enough" to improve race relations

June 28: Cummings, Ryan, Kasich


  • After South Carolina moved to take down the Confederate Flag outside its statehouse -- a move that caused a rift between Southern communities and African Americans who viewed the flag as stoking racism, Cummings said the action was commendable, but "simply not enough."
  • What Cummings said: "I applaud the folks in South Carolina for doing that. I also applaud the governor of Alabama for doing what he's done in taking down the flag. But that's simply not enough. That is simply a symbol of bigotry, a symbol of racial hatred, a symbol of inequality for me and for so many others. Now we must begin to address racial disparities and inequalities themselves, and I think that's the most important thing. Again, it's good to take the flag down, but now we have to move beyond that."
  • In that same interview, Cummings admitted that race relations in his own community of Baltimore had a "long way to go" in the wake of the death of Freddie Grey who died while in police custody. 

Cummings admits Benghazi committee probes turned political 

Rep. Elijah Cummings on Benghazi investigation: “It’s a sad day for all of us”
  • Ahead of what would be come one of the defining moments for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Cummings admitted that his committee had "strayed away" from its focus of investigating the September 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi, Libya. That attack resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.  
  • What Cummings said: "I think it's a -- I think it's a sad day for all of us, because we made a commitment to the families. The families came in with tears in their eyes literally and said, please do not make this a political football. That's exactly what's happened. They asked, they said find out more information about what did happen. And then they asked us to do one other thing, and that is try to make sure you figure out how this does not happen again. And I think we failed at all three."
  • During that same interview, Cummings admonished his colleague Trey Gowdy's comments during the Benghazi probe, saying his claims against Clinton and her associates were unfounded: " I think that Mr. Gowdy is a good man. I think he's been pressured a lot from the right. I think he's a great lawyer. But the fact is, is that the facts speak for themselves. I would judge that."

Cummings willing to put aside differences with Trump for American people

Rep. Elijah Cummings confirms upcoming meeting with Trump

While he would later become one of the president's well-known foes, in the early days of Mr. Trump's presidency, Cummings said he was more than willing to work with the president on issues that mattered most to his constituency -- like health care, voter suppression and election security. 

What Cummings said: "John, we are only in these jobs for a short period of time. And I've got to represent the people, the 700,000 people that I represent. In that four years, I've got kids that got to have schooling. I've got people who need medical care. And I've got to work with him on the things that I can. But, John, where our values clash, we'll have to go toe to toe, period."

Cummings weighs a possible impeachment trial, even without the votes

Top Democrat says he can foresee impeachment proceedings “possibly coming”
  • In April, when presented with the fact that there were not enough support in the Senate to remove the president even if the House moved to impeach him, Cummings acknowledged that at a certain point, you have to go above politics — even if you don't have the votes.
  • What Cummings said:  "You know at some time, Bob, I've got to tell you, there comes a point in life where we all have to make decisions based upon the fact that it is our watch. And, you know, history, I think even if we did not win possibly, if there were not impeachment, I think history would smile upon us for standing up for the Constitution."

Cummings blasts Trump administration for creating "false crisis" at border

Rep. Elijah Cummings blasts Trump administration for creating "false crisis" at the border
  • A champion for Civil Rights, Cummings was vocal about his disagreements with the Trump administration's policies -- most recently the outstanding immigration crisis. 
  • What Cummings said: Cummings told "Face the Nation" that the administration had created a "false crisis" at the U.S. border with its "zero tolerance" policy, which has sparked nationwide debate over the treatment of immigrants crossing the border illegally.
  • In that same interview, he blamed a divided nation partly on the president's rhetoric: "Since he's become president, and even before, he's basically given people license to state things that are ugly, and those things then turn into actions"
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    Emily Tillett is the digital producer at "Face the Nation"