WASHINGTON — As talk of impeaching President Donald Trump rises among some members of the new House majority, both of South Carolina's Democrats say it's too soon for those discussions.
U.S. Reps. Jim Clyburn, D-Columbia, and Joe Cunningham, D-Charleston, both said Friday that Congress should focus on other pressing matters and there's not enough conclusive evidence to move forward with what would likely be a polarizing impeachment process.
"I didn't run on impeachment," Cunningham told The Post and Courier. "I ran on bipartisan issues and working together with Democrats and Republicans to actually tackle the problems up here in D.C. So I'm not focusing on impeachment at all."
Cunningham argued Democrats should instead use their new House majority to focus on rising healthcare costs, crumbling infrastructure and protecting the country's natural resources.
"I can't speak for what other members are doing for their own districts and what they prefer to talk about, but I'm going to continue to beat the same drum of bipartisanship that I've been beating for awhile now," he said.
Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat, maintained his view that Democrats should avoid getting distracted by hopes of impeachment before special counsel Robert Mueller releases his report.
After voting in support of opening debate on impeachment in 2017, an unusual split with other House Democratic leaders, Clyburn has since aligned more closely with colleagues, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who urged Democrats to hold off on the politically perilous topic until after Mueller's report comes out.
"My first order of business is to help people get their lives back on track and get this government open," Clyburn said. "We shouldn't soil the atmosphere with that kind of discussion until we've done that."
The two South Carolina lawmakers spoke after U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., announced he is reintroducing articles of impeachment, a measure he first offered in 2017, arguing Trump obstructed justice by firing FBI director James Comey and has tarnished the presidency.
Some of the newest members of the Democratic majority have come out in support of the idea, too. U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., used an expletive to describe Trump as she called for his impeachment at a progressive event Thursday night on Capitol Hill.
Clyburn did not rule out the possibility of impeachment at some later date if damaging details emerge from Mueller's investigation.
"I never say never," he said.
Trump pushed back on the impeachment chatter himself in a tweet Friday morning, claiming he has been successful and done nothing wrong.
Under the Constitution, presidents can be impeached and removed from office for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”