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Clinton appears to compare Trumps to Bible’s Ahab and Jezebel in Cummings eulogy

Former secretary of state: ‘Like the prophet, our Elijah could call down fire from heaven. He also prayed, worked for healing’; speakers seem to reference impeachment probe

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during funeral services for Rep. Elijah Cummings, Oct. 25, 2019, in Baltimore (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, Pool)
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during funeral services for Rep. Elijah Cummings, Oct. 25, 2019, in Baltimore (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, Pool)

BALTIMORE — Rep. Elijah Cummings was eulogized as a leader with the fiery moral conviction of an Old Testament prophet Friday at a funeral that brought former presidents and ordinary people alike to the Baltimore church where the congressman worshiped for four decades.

“Our Elijah was a fierce champion of truth, justice and kindness in every part of his life,” said former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who took the stage at the New Psalmist Baptist Church to rousing applause.

“Like that Old Testament prophet, he stood against the corrupt leadership of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel,” she said, apparently comparing the US president and his wife to wicked Biblical-era monarchy. “And he looked out for the vulnerable among us. He lifted up the next generation of leaders. And he even worked a few miracles.”

Cummings, a black sharecropper’s son and civil rights leader who rose to power in Washington over two decades ago with his sonorous voice and powerful oratory, died of longstanding health problems October 17 at age 68 while locked in political combat with US President Donald Trump.

The Baltimore Democrat led multiple investigations of the president, who recently lashed out at Cummings’ district as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.”

The turmoil on Capitol Hill seemed close at hand during the service.

Former President Bill Clinton touches the casket of Rep. Elijah Cummings during a funeral service, October 25, 2019, in Baltimore (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, Pool)

In what sounded like a reference to the impeachment inquiry against Trump, former president Bill Clinton told the crowd, “We all know now that, at least until certain things happen, his legacy is how ardently he honored his oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

“He knew that without the Constitution, the laws that were passed under it, the rights that were guaranteed by it and the abuses it was designed to prevent… he would not have been in Congress,” Clinton said, “and so he said to himself, ‘I am certain every day, I will not let this promise be sullied.'”

US President Donald Trump waves as he and US First Lady Melania Trump disembark Air Force One at Stansted Airport, north of London, on June 3, 2019, as they begin a three-day state visit to the UK. (Isabel Infantes / AFP)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who as Democratic leader is overseeing the impeachment drive, took note in her eulogy of the bipartisan crowd at the church and said Cummings had the ability to work with both his fellow Democrats and with Republicans.

“Our Elijah always made a seat at the table for others,” she said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks during funeral services for Rep. Elijah Cummings, October 25, 2019, in Baltimore (Chip Somodevilla/Poo via AP)

Former president Barack Obama recalled Cummings’ humble beginnings, saying: “His life validates the things we tell ourselves about what’s possible in this country, not guaranteed, but possible.”

Cummings’s widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, told the crowd that Trump’s recent jabs hurt her husband. Without mentioning the president by name, she said Cummings’ job became “infinitely more difficult in the last months of his life when he sustained personal attacks and attacks on his beloved city.”

“While he carried himself with grace and dignity in all public forums, it hurt him,” she said.

Jezebel and Ahab meeting Elijah, print by Sir Francis Dicksee (1853-1928)

Trump, who was in South Carolina on Friday, offered his condolences to the Cummings family during a speech and recalled the congressman’s “very strong passion” for lowering prescription drug prices, adding: “We’re going to get it done.”

At the church, gospel and R&B singer BeBe Winans, a favorite of Cummings, performed “Stand” as mourners sang along, stood and raised their hands. Many wiped away tears. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren recited the 23rd Psalm.

Former President Barack Obama speaks during funeral services for Rep. Elijah Cummings, Oct. 25, 2019, in Baltimore (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, Pool)

“It is no coincidence — is it? — that Elijah Cummings shared a name with an Old Testament prophet,” Hillary Clinton told the crowd. “Like the prophet, our Elijah could call down fire from heaven. But he also prayed and worked for healing. He weathered storms and earthquakes but never lost his faith.”

Several hundred people had lined up outside before dawn, waiting for the doors to open so they could pay their final respects to Cummings, who lay in an open casket in the grand, 4,000-seat sanctuary.

“I felt like it was my civic duty, my responsibility to come and pay respects to a man who has done so much for Baltimore city, so much for the people, trying to keep us together,” said the Rev. Jacqueline Williams, 67, of Baltimore, as she waited in line.

On Thursday, Cummings became the first African American lawmaker to lie in state in the US Capitol.

The flag-draped casket of Rep. Elijah Cummings lies in state at the Capitol in Washington, October 24, 2019. (Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP)

Bobby Trotter, a 67-year-old Baltimore resident who lives just outside Cummings’ district, recalled how the congressman helped quell tensions in the city after the rioting that erupted in 2015 over the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who suffered a spinal injury during a jolting ride in a police van.

Cummings “believed in helping people, particularly people that were downtrodden. He stood up. He spoke for them,” Trotter said.

One program he founded in Baltimore is the Elijah Cummings Youth Leadership Program in Israel, which aims to bridge gaps between the Jewish and black communities in the district, and celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Every year about a dozen teens participate in the program, which includes a trip to Israel.

A family spokeswoman said the burial would be private.

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