Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) a conservative Democrat who often breaks with his party on key votes, signaled that he is firmly in support of convicting President Donald Trump when the Senate meets to consider articles of impeachment.
In a PBS Firing Line interview released Friday, Manchin said he believes Trump “absolutely” incited an insurrection by telling a crowd of his supporters to “fight like hell” shortly before they stormed the U.S. Capitol.
Asked if he will vote to convict, Manchin said Trump “should have the ability to defend himself” – reflecting that the Senate impeachment proceedings function as a trial – but nonetheless asserted, “There’s no doubt I think the evidence is overwhelming.”
That places Manchin roughly in line with his Democratic colleagues and signals that, as with Trump’s first Senate impeachment trial last February, no Democrats will break ranks when it comes to a vote.
The looming question is how Senate Republicans will vote, and with the exception of a handful who have called for Trump’s removal – such as Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) – most are keeping their cards close to their chests.
The lynchpin, many believe, will be Senate Majority Mitch McConnell, who told colleagues he is undecided but is also reportedly “pleased” about the impeachment effort because he wants to block Trump from vying for future office.
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn conceded Thursday that Democrats do not currently have the 17 GOP senate votes needed to convict Trump “at this time,” McConnell’s support is widely seen as what would open the floodgates.
Manchin even went as far as to say it should be “a consideration” that lawmakers who objected to Biden electors during a joining session of Congress earlier this month, specifically Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), be removed under the 14th Amendment, which bars from office individuals who have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion.” Manchin said the objections were “totally outside of the realm of our responsibilities.”
10. That’s how many House Republicans broke with their party and voted to impeach Trump on Wednesday, making Trump’s already-historic second impeachment also the most bipartisan impeachment vote in U.S. history.
“I will thoroughly examine the arguments and evidence presented… I will not rush to judgment or make rash statements until this constitutional process has run its course,” Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) said in a statement, reflecting the sentiments of most GOP senators who have spoken about impeachment publicly since it passed the House.
Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Trump allies who broke with the president by voting to affirm President-elect Biden’s win, have come out against impeachment. “The Senate lacks constitutional authority to conduct impeachment proceedings against a former president,” Cotton argued in a statement.
Democrats are leaning on experience to make the case for impeachment, bringing on trial attorney Barry Berke, who served as a special oversight counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during Trump’s first impeachment, as chief impeachment counsel. They are also bringing back Joshua Matz, another attorney on the first impeachment team.
What To Watch For
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate next week, according to CNN. But McConnell has signaled he has no plans to begin formal proceeding until the day Trump leaves office at the earlier.