CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - Rep. Joe Cunningham released a statement and video approximately one hour after the House approved the guidelines lawmakers will use when they consider impeaching President Donald Trump.
“Today’s vote was not a judgment or conclusion on whether or not President Trump should be impeached,” Cunningham said. “Instead, this vote brings much needed transparency into the process and makes sure the American people can see and hear the facts. There were two choices in this decision - to keep this investigation behind closed doors or bring it out into the open for the American people to see. I chose the latter.”
He said he refuses to “prejudge the outcome” of the investigation and will withhold judgment on impeachment until he hears all of the evidence.
“This process is too important to be conducted behind closed doors, and today’s vote helps bring these investigations into public view for the American people to see for themselves,” he said. "As I have said from the beginning, I will not allow politics to play a role in my ultimate decision. I will follow the facts wherever they lead, keep an open mind, and do what is in the best interests of this country and the people of South Carolina.”
The freshman Democrat, who represents a traditionally Republican South Carolina First District that includes most of the Lowcountry, also posted a video to his Twitter account:
Cunningham was one of the last holdouts in his party on the politically polarizing vote.
Meanwhile, Joe Jackson, the South Carolina spokesman for the Republican National Committee, released a statement on Cunningham’s vote, claiming the Congressman “just sealed his fate.”
“Democrats like Joe Cunningham chose to side with Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff and the socialist squad over their constituents, and have officially committed political malpractice," Jackson said. "Americans will remember how these Democrats chose to pursue division and investigation over progress and promises.”
The investigation is focused on Trump’s efforts to push Ukraine to investigate his Democratic political opponents by withholding military aid and an Oval Office meeting craved by the country’s new president.
It is likely to take weeks or more before the House votes on whether to actually impeach Trump. If the House impeaches Trump, the Senate would hold a trial to decide whether to remove him from office.
The rules lay out how the House Intelligence Committee — now leading the investigation by deposing diplomats and other officials behind closed doors — would transition to public hearings.
That panel would issue a report and release transcripts of the closed-door interviews it has been conducting with diplomats and other officials with connections to Trump’s interactions with Ukraine.
The Judiciary Committee would then decide whether to recommend that the House impeach Trump — a finding that he should be removed from office.
The rules also direct House committees “to continue their ongoing investigations” of Trump.