Vulnerable Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham to Vote in Favor of Impeachment

December 16, 2019 Updated: December 16, 2019
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Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.), a freshman member of Congress who has been ranked among the most vulnerable ahead of the 2020 election, revealed that he will vote in favor of impeachment—despite a recent poll showing that constituents don’t favor the measure.

Cunningham told local paper The Post and Courier that he has spent weeks reviewing the evidence from Republicans in defense of President Donald Trump.

“I’ve waited and waited and I have not found any evidence they submitted compelling at all,” Cunningham said on Monday. “At the end of [the] day, this is simply about the rule of law, whether we’re a country with laws or not and what type of precedent we want to set for future presidents.”

Cunningham echoed claims made by Democratic leaders and accused Trump of withholding military aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigations into a potential 2020 rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as his son Hunter Biden. The younger Biden sat on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma Holdings, that has been accused of corruption, and former Vice President Biden in 2018 boasted in a video about withholding $1 billion to Ukraine to push for the firing of the country’s top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin—who himself was accused of corruption by Obama administration officials.

Democrats in the House Judiciary Committee drafted two articles of impeachment: Obstruction of Congress and abuse of power. “Taken together, the articles charge that President Trump has placed his personal, political interests above our national security, our free and fair elections, and our system of checks and balances,” Democrats said in a 658-page report (pdf) on Monday. “He has engaged in a pattern of misconduct that will continue if left unchecked.”

Polling website FiveThirtyEight said there is a more than nine in 10 chance that Cunningham will lose his job in 2020 and that his district leans Republican. The Cook Political Report described his district as a “Democratic toss-up,” meaning that “either party has a good chance of winning.”

His district favored Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“For the president to withhold that to curry a personal and political favor that would help his reelection at the expense of America, I just find that something all of us must stand against,” Cunningham told the news outlet.

As the impeachment inquiry has pressed on, Republican groups in South Carolina have aired TV ads calling on Cunningham to vote against the two articles, according to the Post and Courier.

And a recent poll commissioned by South Carolina’s GOP and was conducted by Starboard Communications appeared to paint an even more dire picture for Cunningham. Some 57 percent “of registered voters surveyed said they would be less likely to vote for Cunningham if he were to vote to impeach Trump” and about 37 percent would “be more likely to vote for him,” The State reported.