Missouri man missing for a week found alive in car that crashed into ravine

8 0 18 Oct 2019

A Missouri man who had been missing for a week was found alive in a wrecked car at the bottom of a ravine Wednesday evening, authorities said.

Ryan Linneman, of Lee’s Summit, was found by a dirt bike rider in wreckage along Interstate 470 in Kansas City, Lee’s Summit police said.

“He traveled approximately 175 feet off the highway, struck a sign and fell about 50 feet into a gully type area,” a department spokesman told NBC News on Thursday.

The car had been hidden from the view of passing motorists on I-470, according to police. It is unclear what caused Linneman to leave the roadway, police said.

A 37-year-old Missouri man who went missing one week ago was found Wednesday inside his vehicle, which he had crashed into a ravine off the highway.KSHB

He was taken to a hospital with critical injuries.

Police had sought help finding Linneman, who had last been seen driving a tan, 2004 Honda Accord with Missouri license plates Oct. 9.

Hard Rock Hotel collapse survivor speaks out as new questions arise about potential structural flaws

8 0 18 Oct 2019

Derrick Pate was trapped.

When the future Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans came crashing down Saturday, the steelworker was buried under tons of rubble on the construction site’s eighth floor.

“I could’ve been left there,” he said Thursday in an exclusive interview with NBC News at his rehabilitation hospital. “And I wouldn’t be telling this story today.”

He said rescue teams initially were reluctant to dig him out because they were worried the remainder of the structure could collapse at any moment. But several of his coworkers insisted they try to save him.

“Somebody tried to call me,” he recalled. “I had my phone in my hand. I couldn’t move to answer my phone … I just kept yelling for help.”

They managed to dig him out. He was among dozens of people were injured and the last one who remains hospitalized.

Authorities in New Orleans are now investigating a new video following the collapse of the future hotel. The social media post is raising questions about potential concerns before the deadly accident.

The Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans was under construction when the structure partially collapsed Saturday.Gerald Herbert / AP

The grainy video claims to show the hotel two days before it buckled. An apparent worker at the construction site is heard in Spanish saying a concrete slab is aging and the posts supporting it are bent.

It was posted this week on the personal Facebook page of Randy Gaspard, who works on commercial projects but has not worked on the Hard Rock site. He said he got the video from a site worker, but he would not identify who shot it.

When NBC News showed him the video, Pate said it appeared to be the job site.

“He wants to make sure that this incident doesn’t happen to anybody else again,” said Pate’s attorney, Shean Williams, who added he’s aware of other workers who had complained of potential structural concerns before the collapse.

New Orleans Fire Superintendent Tim McConnell said investigators are trying to verify the video.

“We’re well aware of it,” he said. “That will certainly be part of the investigation and our evaluation of what caused it.”

Crews will use explosives to bring down two cranes that are precariously leaning over the site, which is managed by Citadel Builders.

A spokesman for the company said it had not been able to verify the video.

“We cannot overstress that while we await the implementation of the plan to secure the site, one thing that can be just as dangerous as the tower cranes is false information,” the company said in a written statement.

Pate had been working at the site for seven months.

“Somebody needs to be held accountable for it,” he said.

He’s now out of surgery after breaking his femur.

“I’m just lucky to be here, actually,” he said. “Very lucky. Somebody was in my corner. God was in my corner.”

Tom Junod and Anthony Cusumano contributed.

A mother who warned officials her son was taking a gun to school now faces felony charges

10 0 17 Oct 2019

An Indiana mother who alerted authorities that her teenage son was headed to a middle school with a gun last year before he opened fire and then died by suicide was arrested Tuesday for neglect of a dependent and other charges, according to police.

Mary York, 43, was charged Friday with five counts of felony neglect of a dependent, one count of felony dangerous control of a child and one misdemeanor count of criminal recklessness, according to a statement from Indiana State Police.

She turned herself in on Tuesday, and was booked at the Wayne County Jail.

Mary York, the mother of a teenage boy who died by suicide inside Dennis Intermediate School in December.WTHR

York called police in December to report that her teenage son was headed to Dennis Intermediate School in Richmond with a gun, according to NBC affiliate WTHR and police.

Officers from multiple agencies were immediately dispatched to the school, where they found the teen shooting out a glass door before entering the building.

Police chased after him, and when they surrounded him in a stairwell, “he made the unfortunate decision to take his own life,” according to State Police. No one else was injured during the incident.

Two investigations into the incident resulted in the charges brought by Wayne County Prosecutor Mike Shipman against York. It’s unclear if she has a lawyer.

York had told police that her son suffered from depression prior to the tragedy, but that she had removed him from an inpatient treatment program because of the cost, according to court documents obtained by WTHR.

Records say he had expressed a desire to go to the school and kill students that had bullied him, and he heard voices that told him to kill others, then himself.

The court documents said York failed to prevent her son from gaining access to firearms despite knowing of his mental state.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit for additional resources.

U.S., Turkey agree to cease-fire to allow Kurdish forces to retreat

13 0 17 Oct 2019

LONDON — Vice President Mike Pence announced Thursday that the U.S. reached a cease-fire agreement with Turkey to suspend its military operation in Syria to allow Kurdish forces to retreat from a designated safe zone.

Pence said that Turkey will suspend its military operations for 120 hours to allow Kurdish forces to leave the zone, and U.S. forces will aid in the retreat.

The agreement comes amid growing global concern about Turkey’s military incursion in Syria after President Donald Trump ordered U.S. forces to withdraw from the country, leaving the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG — a U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State — without support.

“I’m grateful for the president’s leadership. I’m grateful for the more than five hours of negotiations with President [Recep] Erdogan,” Pence said, adding that the parties “arrived at a solution that we believe will save lives.”

Trump on Monday ordered new sanctions on Turkey amid sustained criticism from Democratic and Republican lawmakers over his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, which made way for the Turkish operation.

Trump said on Twitter he would authorize sanctions “against current and former officials” in Turkey’s government “and any persons contributing to Turkey’s destabilizing actions in northeast Syria.”

Pence said Thursday, however, that under the cease-fire agreement, the U.S. will not impose additional sanctions. The vice president added that once the cease-fire becomes permanent all sanctions will be lifted.

“Make no mistake about it, President Trump was very clear with our ally Turkey about American opposition to Turkish military forces entering Syria,” Pence said. “And I believe the candor and frankness that President Trump applied to this and the strength of his relationship with President Erdogan both contributed to the ability for this agreement to come about.”

Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Erdogan in Turkey on Thursday in an effort to persuade him to implement a cease-fire in the escalating Syria conflict.

The diplomatic overture took place just hours after Trump downplayed the deteriorating conflict and described the Kurdish forces who are fighting Erdogan’s troops as “no angels.”

It also follows the news that Trump wrote an extraordinary letter to Erdogan warning him not to be “a tough guy” on the same day that Turkish forces launched their attack on northern Syria last week.

“You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy — and I will,” the letter read.

On Tuesday, Erdogan vowed never to declare a cease-fire.

“They are pressuring us to stop the operation,” he told reporters. “They are announcing sanctions. Our goal is clear. We are not worried about any sanctions.”

Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern Syria this month, moving out of the way for a Turkish operation, has left the region in chaos as Kurdish troops feel abandoned by America and have turned to Syrian President Bashar Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin to help deter a Turkish invasion.

Pence’s meeting with Erdogan came hours after Trump dismissed Turkey’s invasion and said the fight was over land that “has nothing to do with us.”

“If Turkey goes into Syria, that’s between Turkey and Syria,” he said to reporters in the Oval Office. “It’s not between Turkey and the United States.”

Meanwhile, on the ground in northeast Syria there was no sign of respite. Overnight, Syrian forces took the strategic border town of Kobani, according to the Rojava Information Center, a pro-Syrian Defense Forces research group based in the Kurdish-held areas.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his ruling party legislators at the Parliament, in Ankara, on Wednesday.Burhan Ozbilici / AP

The move will make it more difficult for Turkey to establish its “safe zone” for Syrian refugees and free of Syrian Kurdish fighters along the frontier. It is also symbolic for Syrian Kurds and their ambitions for self-rule.

As Turkish forces advance south and Syrian regime troops north, some 300,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in the first week of the Turkish invasion, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group based in Britain. Some 70 civilians have been killed, it added.

Earlier this week, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated the figure of displaced people to be around 160,000, including 70,000 children, since the start of Turkey’s military operation Oct. 9.

Saphora Smith reported from London. Dartunorro Clark reported from New York.

13 high-protein, high-fiber snack ideas

12 0 17 Oct 2019

The line between snacks and meals is getting blurrier so it’s more important than ever to choose filling and nutritious options. Your best chance of getting through the day without distracting hunger is to choose a protein- and fiber-rich snack. Snacks that contain whole food sources of protein and fiber (say, from some combo of nuts, veggies, fruits, beans, eggs, or yogurt) offer a winning formula that keeps you full for hours. Plus, if your snack is dominant in protein- and fiber-rich food sources, these healthful ingredients are likely crowding out less healthful ones, namely added sugar and refined grains. Here are some pointers for picking a healthy, high protein, high fiber snack, along with some tasty options that fit the parameters.

What to look for in a healthy snack

  • At least 3 grams of fiber (you need around 25-38 grams per day)
  • 5 or more grams of protein (for reference, a boiled egg has about 6 grams)
  • No more than 6 grams of added sugar (about 1 ½ teaspoons, but lower is better)
  • Wholesome ingredients, like beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, veggies, eggs, yogurt, and cheese
  • No artificial sweeteners, like sucralose or aspartame (the stuff in the yellow and blue packets)
  • No artificial colors or preservatives (often clues that something is overly processed)

Be ‘calorie aware’

It’s not necessary to tether yourself to a calorie counting app, but it’s a good idea to be calorie aware and to energize (another way of saying consume calories) in line with your activity and needs. There’s a wide range of calorie needs, and your requirements may vary depending on the day (maybe you had a light lunch or maybe you participated in a killer workout or you might have a long stretch before dinner). Be realistic about your needs and goals. A good snack range is between 100 to 300 calories. Here are some ideas to get you off and running.

Healthy snacks at grocery store

In a pinch, you can find plenty of snacks that offer hunger-taming amounts of protein and fiber for grab-and-go eating.

Beanitos Hint of Lime Chips

You’ll score 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein in this restaurant style tortilla chip. The first ingredient is whole great northern beans, which provide the protein and fiber punch. Dip a serving of chips into some jarred, no added sugar salsa to boost the nutrition content while sticking close to the 130-calorie count from the chips. Or, stash a a mini guac from Wholly Guacamole in your office fridge to pair the chips with some plant-based fats.

BelGioioso Parmesan Powerful Snacking Cheese

BelGioioso Parmesan Powerful Snacking CheeseBelGioioso

This is like string cheese’s sophisticated cousin, with a nutty, full-bodied flavor that happens to deliver 7 grams of protein per snack-size package. Pair it with a cup of strawberries to hit your fiber targets, or serve it with some grain and seed crackers, like these Mary’s Gone Crackers.


A bar made from whole food ingredients can tide you over in a pinch. These bars get protein from eggs and fiber from nuts, so they’re about the next best thing to a DIY snack. Each RXBAR has 12 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber, and they’re sweetened with dates instead of added sugar. For a lighter snack that’s just as tasty and portable, their kiddie version supplies 7 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber for fewer calories.

Wonderful Almonds

A snack pack of almonds might be just what you need to get through a hangry afternoon. The 250-calorie snack-size portion supplies 5 grams of fiber and 9 grams of protein. You can pair the bag — either all of it or just half of it — with a fruit or veggie of your choice for a more balanced, protein- and fiber-rich snack.

Healthy snacks you can make at home

Lemon Tofu Creme over Strawberries

Lemon Tofu Creme over StrawberriesCourtesy of Lauren Harris-Pincus

Love it or hate it, you can’t argue with tofu’s versatility. Here, it channels lemon crème sauce, yet it’s vegan, dairy- and gluten-free. Serve it atop strawberries (as shown) and you’ll get 5 grams of protein and fiber. Top with nuts and you’ll get even more of both nutrients.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Pumpkin Pie SmoothieCourtesy of Lauren Harris-Pincus

Smoothie shop smoothies can be a great way to amp up your fruit and veggie intake, but their calorie counts are often closer to a meal than a snack. If you have a blender handy, you can make this luscious treat, which has 9 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber for just 100 calories. And don’t forget about canned pumpkin once the weather warms. Pumpkin puree is an all-star staple that bumps up the nutrition in smoothies and other dishes.

Chocolate Banana Kefir Chia Pudding

Chocolate Banana Kefir Chia PuddingCourtesy of Lindsey Janeiro

This chocolate treat might become your new snack hero. It checks all the boxes! Chocolate? Check! Naturally sweetened? Check! Protein and fiber? Check, check with 8 grams and 9 grams respectively. It’s also great for your gut since it contains both pre- and probiotics.

Lemon Ginger Hummus

Lemon Ginger HummusCourtesy of Lindsey Janeiro

You can buy hummus from the store (no shame!) or you could easily whip up your own flavorful version, like this one. A serving has 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein, but you can boost both further depending on the dipper you choose.

3-Ingredient Cocoa Almond Truffles

3-Ingredient Cocoa Almond TrufflesCourtesy of Marisa Moore

They may sound like a treat, but these no-added-sugar bites are made with wholesome ingredients, like almonds and dates. A snack like this — with both 5 grams of protein and fiber — is the perfect way to satisfy a sweet tooth and chase away hunger. Bonus: The cocoa dusting has brain-boosting antioxidants.

Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas

Crunchy Roasted ChickpeasCourtesy of Natalie Rizzo

You can buy ‘em in a bag, but roasted chickpeas are also really easy to make from scratch. This recipe has two seasoning suggestions, but feel free to get creative. (Smoked paprika is a personal fave.) Once roasted, these nibbles are a perfect crunchy snack on their own, but they also play well with others; use them instead of (or in addition to) nuts in trail mixes. A serving has 5 grams of both protein and fiber.

Bell Pepper and Egg Salad Stuffed Celery

Ever heard of ants on a log? This is the grown up version, with protein-packed egg salad smothered over a celery log. Two stuffed stalks have 3 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein, plus loads of veggie goodness.


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Mulvaney acknowledges Trump held up Ukraine aid for political reasons: Get over it

16 0 17 Oct 2019

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has a message for those concerned that President Donald Trump held up military aid to Ukraine until they moved to investigate a conspiracy involving the 2016 U.S election — “Get over it.”

In speaking with reporters Thursday at the White House, Mulvaney acknowledged Trump held up Ukraine aid partly for political reasons.

“Get over it,” he said. “There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy.”

“That is going to happen,” he added. “Elections have consequences.”

The president and his allies have for the past month insisted no quid pro quo took place in regards to the Ukraine. House Democrats opened an impeachment inquiry into the president after a whistleblower filed a complaint over Trump’s July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and the administration’s subsequent response.

In a White House summary of the call, Trump asked Zelenskiy for a “favor” shortly after Zelenskiy discussed U.S. military aid. That favor included asking Zelesnkiy to probe a baseless conspiracy theory about a Democratic National Committee email server being in Ukraine as well as former Vice President Joe Biden and son Hunter Biden.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who is spearheading the impeachment inquiry, reacted to Mulvaney’s Thursday comments by saying that the situation has “gone from very, very bad to much, much worse.”

Mulvaney on Thursday said part of the reason the aid to Ukraine was held up was because the president had concerns about corruption in the Ukraine related to the 2016 election. Mulvaney said the president also has a strong distaste for foreign aid and doesn’t like “spending money overseas.”

“The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing he was worried about in corruption with that nation, and that is absolutely appropriate,” Mulvaney said.

Asked if Ukraine’s decision whether or not to probe the matter played a role in the nearly $400 million in aid that was frozen shortly before the July phone call, Mulvaney said “yes,” adding the money “ultimately then flowed.”

“We do that all the time with foreign policy,” he said, adding that the administration had also held up money to three central American countries so that they would change their immigration policies.

Mulvaney insisted, however, that the hold up had “absolutely nothing to do with Biden.”

“I was involved with the process by which the money was held up temporarily, okay?” Mulvaney said. “Three issues for that. The corruption in the country, whether or not other countries were participating in the support of the Ukraine, and whether or not they were cooperating in an ongoing investigation with our Department of Justice. That’s completely legitimate.”

The debunked DNC server conspiracy — known as “CrowdStrike” — seeks to distance Russia from culpability in the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails. CrowdStrike is a cybersecurity firm that investigated the hacking of Democratic National Committee email servers during the 2016 election, and the conspiracy theory paints its findings about Russia’s hacking efforts as suspect and politically motivated.

Last month, Trump’s former homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, told ABC’s “This Week” that the theory is “not only a conspiracy, it is completely debunked,” adding that “it has no validity.”

“United States government reached its conclusion on attributing to Russia the DNC hack in 2016 before it even communicated it to the FBI, long before the FBI ever knocked on the door at the DNC, he continued. “So a server inside the DNC was not relevant to our determination to the attribution. It was made up front and beforehand.”

“The DNC server and that conspiracy theory has got to go, they have to stop with that, it cannot continue to be repeated in our — in our discourse,” Bossert added, saying that if Trump continues to focus on 2016, “it’s going to bring him down.”

Geoff Bennett contributed.

Georgia school district adopted trans student bathroom policy. Then came the death threats.

8 0 17 Oct 2019

A Georgia school district is ending its new bathroom policy for transgender students in response to death threats and other harassment.

Pickens County School District cited “many serious safety concerns” in a statement Wednesday explaining its decision to reverse the policy that allowed trans students to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity.

“There have been death threats, student harassment, and vandalism of school property,” officials from the district, based in Jasper about 60 miles north of Atlanta, wrote. “The District understands and acknowledges that it has the responsibility to protect its staff and students. However, the District has concerns that it may not be able to meet these recently increased demands.”

The district said it implemented the policy in accordance with Adams v. the School Board of St. John’s County, Florida, a federal case in which a court ruled a Florida school system must allow a 16-year-old trans boy to use the men’s room.

The 2018 case was decided in the 11th Circuit, which has jurisdiction over Georgia in addition to Florida and Alabama. The St. Johns County district, which encompasses St. Augustine south of Jacksonville, has appealed the case, which is scheduled for a hearing in December, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Pickens County schools’ decision comes after a heated Monday night school board meeting attended by almost 600 people ⁠— a large showing for a county of just over 30,000 residents. Close to 50 people spoke for or against the policy, NBC Atlanta affiliate WXIA reported.

“You should be able to use any restroom that you want to use,” Kayla Hollyfield said at the emotionally-charged meeting, according to WXIA. “This is not about left or right. It’s about equal rights. It’s not an agenda.”

“I would never in my life use a restroom in which a female is in,” Nathan Berfield said in opposition to the policy, drawing resounding applause from the audience.

Many parents at the meeting got visibly angry about the policy, video shows, with some citing common and unfounded fears that allowing trans students to use the bathroom of their choice would lead to men using the women’s room for insidious purposes.

The district’s superintendent has said the trans bathroom policy was enacted largely to avoid a lawsuit that officials feared might bankrupt the small school system, WXIA reported.

Now the district said it will return to its former bathroom procedures “until it can consult with law enforcement and other safety professionals so that these concerns may be addressed.”

“We ask that all of our stakeholders exercise patience and discretion until these matters can be resolved,” the district statement said.

Its high school still maintains single-stall restrooms that are available to any student who wants to use gender-neutral restrooms, WXIA reported.

The district did not immediately respond to a request by NBC News for details of its old bathroom policy.

Ex-Florida officer who fatally shot retired librarian during drill gets no jail time

9 0 17 Oct 2019

A former Florida police officer who fatally shot a 73-year-old retired librarian during a demonstration for the public in 2016 will not serve jail time.

Then-officer Lee Coel was performing in a “shoot/don’t shoot” exercise with the Punta Gorda Police Department in the summer of 2016 when he shot Mary Knowlton, who had volunteered to participate.

She was struck by the fatal bullet in front of about three dozen people, including Knowlton’s husband of 55 years, who were at the citizen police academy watching the drill about police use of firearms.

Then-police chief Tom Lewis said at the time that the revolver Coel fired had been used in previous exercises. The gun was loaded with bullets instead of blanks.

Lee Coel and K-9 Spirit.via WBBH / PGPD

Coel, who was charged the following year with felony manslaughter with a firearm, accepted a plea deal this week, sparing him from serving jail time, according to NBC affiliate WBBH. The deal stipulates that he spend 10 years on probation. He had faced up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Coel, who joined the Punta Gorda Police Department in 2014, was fired shortly after he was charged.

He was investigated by internal affairs and retrained after an October 2015 arrest during which a man was mauled by his police dog for at least two minutes. The incident was caught on dashcam video and went viral.

He had also been asked to resign in 2013 from a previous job with the Miramar Police Department in Florida for “failure to satisfactorily complete agency field training program.”

Mary Knowlton and her husband Gary KnowltonProvided by family

He wrote in his Punta Gorda application that he had been “found to have committed two simple policy violations” after he was hit with two “excessive use of force complaints” that were later deemed unfounded.

The family of Knowlton, a retired librarian and mother of two grown sons, received a more than $2 million settlement, approved by the Punta Gorda City Council.

Lewis, who had said he held himself “100 percent accountable” for the shooting, was charged with culpable negligence and found not guilty in 2017.

Boxer Patrick Day dies at age 27 after suffering brain injury during match

8 0 17 Oct 2019

Patrick Day, a 27-year-old boxer from Long Island, New York, died Wednesday after suffering a traumatic brain injury during a match over the weekend.

Day was knocked unconscious during the tenth round of a match against Charles Conwell on Saturday at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago. The New York-native slipped into a coma after undergoing brain surgery to treat the brain injury but never woke up.

Boxing promoter Lou DiBella confirmed the death Wednesday evening in a statement posted online.

“He was surrounded by his family, close friends and members of his boxing team, including his mentor, friend and trainer Joe Higgins,” DiBella wrote. “On behalf of Patrick’s family, team, and those closest to him, we are grateful for the prayers, expressions of support and outpouring of love for Pat that have been so obvious since his injury.”

The 27-year-old super welterweight fighter turned pro in 2012 after winning two national titles and the New York Golden Gloves tournament. Day won the World Boxing Council’s Continental Americas championship in 2017 and the International Boxing Federation Intercontinental championship earlier this year, according to DiBella.

DiBella noted in his statement that Day was college educated and didn’t “need” to box to earn a living.

“He chose to box, knowing the inherent risks that every fighter faces when he or she walks into a boxing ring,” DiBella said. “Boxing is what Pat loved to do. It’s how he inspired people and it was something that made him feel alive.”

The promoter said Day’s death was a call to action to make boxing a safer sport for athletes.

Charles Conwell, the Olympic boxer who defeated Day in Chicago, said he wished he could take back the match in an open letter to Day, posted Monday while the 27-year-old was still in a coma.

“I replay the fight over and over in my head thinking what if this never happened and why did it happen to you,” Conwell wrote on his Instagram Monday. “I can’t stop thinking about it myself I prayed for you so many times and shedded so many tears because I couldn’t even imagine how my family and friends would feel.”

Conwell, 21, said he considered quitting boxing but felt it would go against Day’s love of the sport. He wrote that, instead, he would use Day as motivation to “win a world title because that’s what you wanted.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat and House Oversight Chairman, dies at 68

5 0 17 Oct 2019

WASHINGTON — Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings died Thursday after what his office described as “complications concerning longstanding health challenges.” He was 68.

Cummings, D-Md., passed away at 2:45 a.m. ET at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital, his office said in a brief statement.

Cummings had represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District since 1996 and was at the center of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, in his role as House Oversight Committee Chairman.

The congressman hadn’t taken part in a roll call vote since Sept. 11, failing to return for work after a medical procedure he said would only keep him away for a week, according to The Associated Press. Cummings last spoke on the House floor in late July before the House went on a six-week recess.

He has been the victim of what Democrats said were racist attacks by the president, who tweeted that his congressional district covering parts of Baltimore was “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.