CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A spokesperson for First District Rep. Joe Cunningham says the Congressman is closely following proceedings against President Donald Trump.
“The testimony he’s seen from constitutional scholars and President Trump’s own appointees paints an incredibly concerning picture of the president’s abuse of power,” Cunningham spokesperson Rebecca Drago said in a statement Thursday. "He will continue to withhold judgement until the articles have been drafted and he’s had the time to thoroughly examine the articles and all supporting evidence.”
The statement from Cunningham’s office comes the same day House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump “leaves us no choice” but to act swiftly because he’s likely to corrupt the system again unless he is removed before the 2020 election.
“The president’s actions have seriously violated the Constitution,” she said in a somber address at the Capitol. “He is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit. The president has engaged in abuse of power, undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections.”
Trump has insisted he did nothing wrong. He tweeted that the Democrats “have gone crazy.”
Drafting articles of impeachment is a milestone moment, only the fourth time in U.S. history Congress has tried to remove a president, and it intensifies the rigid and polarizing partisanship of the Trump era that is consuming Washington and dividing the nation.
The speaker delivered her historic announcement in solemn tones at the Capitol, drawing on the Constitution and the Founding Fathers in forcefully claiming Congress’ oversight of the president in the nation’s system of checks and balances. Democrats are already beginning to prepare the formal charges, pushing toward House votes, possibly before Christmas.
Seemingly eager to fight, Trump tweeted that if Democrats “are going to impeach me, do it now, fast.” Though he has fought the House investigation, trying to bar current and former officials from testifying, he said he now wants to move on to a “fair trial” in the Senate.
For months, the South Carolina Republican Party and Trump supporters have called on Cunningham to denounce the impeachment effort. A rally held outside Cunningham’s Mount Pleasant office in early October was part of a “Stop the Madness” campaign.
Cunningham said then as well that he was “withholding judgment on whether our President should be impeached until hearing all the evidence and ideally, hearing directly from the whistleblowers.”
Cunningham said the House’s vote on Oct. 31 to approve the guidelines lawmakers would use when considering impeachment was “not a judgment or conclusion” on whether the president should be impeached.
“Instead, this vote brings much needed transparency into the process and makes sure the American people can see and hear the facts," he said in a statement on Oct. 31. "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.”
The freshman Democrat, who represents a traditionally Republican South Carolina First District that includes most of the Lowcountry, was sworn into office in January.
Republican are standing lockstep with Trump, unswayed by arguments that his actions amount to wrongdoing, let alone impeachable offenses.
Trump’s allies argue that voters, not lawmakers, should decide the president’s future.