Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) called on the Senate to vote to censure President Donald Trump for his effort to coerce Ukraine into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden since it will not vote to remove the president from office.
“I must be realistic: I see no path to the 67 votes required to impeach President Trump and haven’t since this trial started,” Manchin said Monday on the Senate floor. “However, I do believe a bipartisan majority of this body would vote to censure President Trump for his actions.”
“His behavior cannot go unchecked by the Senate, and censure would allow a bipartisan statement condemning his unacceptable behavior in the strongest terms,” Manchin added.
As the impeachment trial has wound to its close, a number of Republican senators have said they disapprove of the president’s conduct but will not vote to convict and remove him from office. Manchin’s push for a censure resolution would provide them with a way to register their disapproval without removing Trump from office.
Manchin followed his statement by introducing a resolution to “condemn [Trump’s] wrongful conduct in the strongest terms.”
Unlike impeachment, censure is not mentioned in the Constitution as a remedy for a president caught abusing their power. Manchin’s suggestion would simply act as a nonbinding resolution stating that the Senate senses Trump’s behavior was wrong.
Only two presidents ― Andrew Jackson and James Buchanan ― have been named in censure resolutions adopted by either the House or the Senate. Numerous other censure resolutions targeting presidents have been introduced over the years, including for the last two presidents to face impeachment, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.
As of Monday afternoon, when Manchin made a speech on the Senate floor, he said he was undecided on conviction and “truly struggling with this decision.”
“I know this was not a difficult decision for many of my friends and colleagues on both sides of the aisle, but it is one that has weighed heavily on me,” Manchin said. “Voting whether or not to remove a sitting president is no easy decision, and it shouldn’t be, as the consequences for our nation are severe.”
While censure may give Republicans a way to wag their finger at the president, it does not resolve the problem created by Trump’s efforts to get foreign aid in his reelection campaign.
“He has done it before,” House impeachment manager Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said in his final argument on Monday. “He will do it again.”
Manchin gave few clues on how he plans to vote. He called himself a “moderate, centrist Democrat” and touted his bipartisan voting record and work across the aisle. He suggested both sides had made some convincing arguments.
Manchin said removing the president would “further divide our deeply divided nation” and “further poison our already poisonous political atmosphere.” At the same time, he called out “the false claim that the president can do no wrong, that he is above the law, and if it’s good for the reelection of the president, then it’s good for our country” ― a reference to an argument made by Trump’s defense team.
“That is simply preposterous,” Manchin said. “No one, not even the president, is above the law,” he added later.
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