Longtime Elijah Cummings Friend Confirms He Snubbed Mitch McConnell at Memorial, Explains Why
Bobby Rankin, a longtime friend of late Rep. Elijah Cummings and a pallbearer at the congressman’s funeral, confirmed that he did intentionally snub Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at a memorial service, and explained why.
Congressman Cummings passed away nearly two weeks ago at the age of 68 due to longstanding health issues and was lauded by colleagues from across the political spectrum. Last Thursday, lawmakers, and others paid their respect to Rep. Cummings as his body lay in state in the U.S. Capitol.
One moment that attracted intense viral attention was Mr. Rankin’s apparent snub of McConnell as he hugged and shook hands with other congressional leaders at the memorial. On Monday, The Washington Post reported that Rankin confirmed the snub, and explained that it was related to the death of his own brother.
Rankin told the Post that he refused to shake McConnell’s hand because he blames the Kentucky senator for the government’s failure to pay VA benefits before his brother died after Rep. Cummings had put Rankin in touch with McConnell to help.
Rankin said his brother was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer that causes malignant cells to accumulate in a person’s bone marrow, more than a decade ago, after leaving the Marines. Multiple myeloma is one of 15 health conditions linked to Camp Lejeune’s tainted drinking water, which contained industrial solvents, benzene and other chemicals for roughly 30 years beginning in the 1950s, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans who were exposed to the water and later developed any of the conditions can qualify for benefits, including free health care and disability compensation, VA said.
On Thursday, Rankin said his brother was already on his mind when he spotted McConnell, noting that Friday marked the anniversary of Jerry’s death. Rankin wasn’t clear about exactly why his brother didn’t receive VA benefits or McConnell’s precise role in Jerry’s battle to get them after his cancer returned in 2016.
“I could not put my hands in the man’s hand who refused to help somebody who served his country,” Rankin said, later adding, “I couldn’t do it, because I was thinking about my brother.”
McConnell and his office did not respond to the Post’s request for comment.
Watch the moment that went viral above, via The Washington Post.
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