Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) suggested the U.S. Senate should drop the impeachment of President Donald Trump and go for censure, instead. He said he remains “undecided” on whether or not he will vote to convict Trump on Wednesday, but his call for censure suggests he will likely vote to acquit.
“The ultimate question is not whether the president’s conduct warrants his removal from office but whether our nation is better served by his removal by the Senate now with impeachment or by the decision that voters will make in November,” the red-state senator insisted.
Manchin condemned the partisanship of this impeachment and warned against removing Trump from office in an election year.
“Never before in the history of our Republic, has there been a purely partisan impeachment vote of a president. Removing this president at this time would not only deeply divide our already divided nation, but also further poison our already toxic political atmosphere,” he said.
Furthermore, he acknowledged that it is extremely unlikely that two-thirds of the Senate will vote to remove the president. While the Constitution only requires a majority vote of the House of Representatives to impeach a president, it requires a two-thirds vote in the Senate in order to remove a sitting president. This would require 20 of the 53 Republican senators to vote to remove Trump.
“I see no path to the 67 votes required to impeach President Trump and haven’t since this trial started,” Manchin admitted. Yet he predicted that a majority of the Senate might vote for censure — a formal denunciation of Trump’s actions in Ukraine.
“I do believe a bipartisan majority of this body would vote to censure President Trump for his actions in this matter. Censure would allow this body to unite across party lines, and as an equal branch of government to formally denounce the president’s actions and hold him accountable. His behavior cannot go unchecked by the Senate, and censure would allow a bipartisan statement condemning his unacceptable behavior in the strongest terms,” the senator explained.
Manchin insisted that Trump’s actions must be condemned, but he suggested that he does not believe this scandal merits a vote to remove the president. He noted that “voting whether or not to remove a sitting president is the most consequential decision that I or any U.S. Senator will ever face.”
If every Republican votes against removing Trump, even having one Democrat defection would be seen as a tremendous victory for the president. Joe Manchin insisted he condemns Trump’s actions, but it seems he is steeling himself for a vote to acquit the president.
JOE MANCHIN calls for Senate to censure Trump:
“[The] question is not whether the president’s conduct warrants his removal from office but whether our nation is better served by his removal by the Senate now with impeachment or by the decision that voters will make in November." pic.twitter.com/2fzq3Xdm0m
— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) February 3, 2020
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.