It was disappointing to see all those members of Congress brazenly rush to judgment on President Donald Trump’s dealings with the Ukraine this week.
All the propaganda, obfuscation and party-before-country was simply shameful. And that was just the Republicans.
“They are continuing the witch hunts without the facts,” congressman Jeff Duncan tweeted … on Tuesday, before he had any facts. “Baseless attacks,” congressman Joe Wilson magically forecast the same day.
Congressmen Tom Rice and Ralph Norman criticized Democrats for not waiting 24 hours to see the readout of a phone call between Trump and the Ukraine president before declaring impeachment. Even though they hadn’t seen it — yet were doing their best to preemptively dismiss any notion of wrongdoing.
Of course, all these South Carolina congressmen have a point. Democrats could have launched their inquiry into an intelligence agent’s whistleblower complaint about Trump without using the term “impeachment.”
The right thing to do in a situation like this is to gather all the facts, and then decide what to do.
As congressman Joe Cunningham suggested. “The American people deserve to know if the president pressured a foreign leader into targeting an American citizen,” Cunningham said earlier this week. “That’s why I’m calling for a bipartisan effort to get to the bottom of these claims.”
That is exactly the right — and rare — position here. Not coincidentally, it is the same attitude Cunningham had the last time Trump was accused of asking a foreign government to help him win an election.
You know, back in the summer.
When the Mueller report came out, Cunningham said he was troubled by some of the findings but still didn’t support impeachment. “You’re talking about basically nullifying the election of 2016 and what voters voted for,” Cunningham told The Post and Courier’s Schuyler Kropf. “That’s not a conclusion you just jump to based upon tweets or popular opinion. It’s something that you have to take extremely seriously.”
The rough transcript of that phone call has been released, the whistleblower complaint is out there, and the acting intelligence chief testified Thursday morning, but there are a lot of facts out there yet to be uncovered.
So Cunningham has not signed onto this impeachment bandwagon, as most other Democrats have. It’s an old-fashioned sort of deliberation, what he calls Lowcountry over party.
Now, some people say they were duped by Cunningham — they thought his slogan meant he’d vote with Republicans all the time. No, what he suggested was something uncharacteristic in politics; you know, weighing each issue on merit. Agree with him or not, that’s what he’s done so far.
Cynics will say that Cunningham is simply, and obviously, taking the positions he must in a district weighted heavily in Republicans’ favor. It’s a fair point, and he would be foolish not to consider the political calculus.
But Cunningham keeps conducting himself in a way that reflects the 1st District, level-headed and moderate. Well, most of us.
And most people would read a transcript of Trump asking the Ukrainian president to do him a favor and investigate Joe Biden — the favorite to win the Democratic presidential nomination next year — and conclude that is, at the very least, worth looking into. Especially since Trump is known for coloring outside the lines ... and into Alabama. At least on weather maps. Still, as bad as it looks right now, Cunningham is right: Get all the facts first.
Predictably, most Democrats are going to stampede toward impeachment, and most Republicans will pretend there’s nothing to see here. The people who launched 100 Benghazi hearings will simply accuse the Democrats of investigating Trump to death.
It would be refreshing if more of the denizens of Hypocrisy High actually withheld judgment until they knew what they were talking about.
The rest of South Carolina’s congressional delegation should probably take a cue from Cunningham and think before they blindly tweet for the team.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org.