While saying that he remains undecided on how he will vote on the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Monday he wants his fellow senators to consider a vote to censure the president.
Trump appears set for acquittal in his Senate trial on Wednesday, after almost all the Senate’s Republicans shut down an attempt to call witnesses in the trial last week.
“Censure would allow this body to unite across party lines,” Manchin said Monday afternoon in a speech on the Senate floor. “[Trump’s] behavior cannot go unchecked by the Senate, and censure would allow a bipartisan statement condemning his unacceptable behavior in the strongest terms.”
It wasn’t clear Monday night who, if anyone, would join Manchin in voting for a censure resolution.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said Friday he believes the allegations that, in July 2019, Trump was withholding congressional aid from Ukraine until that country’s president announced an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. However, Alexander said this alleged offense didn’t rise to the level of impeachment and that Trump’s future should be decided by voters later this year.
Hunter Biden was on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company while his father was vice president. The investigation was never announced and the military aid was eventually released to Ukraine. Joe Biden is now running for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.
Manchin told The Washington Post after his Senate speech that he didn’t know if Republican senators, such as Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine — the two GOP senators who voted to hear witnesses in the trial — would support his censure resolution.
As for Senate Democrats, they still believe Trump should be impeached, and seemed Monday to consider censure a useless half-measure.
Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, told the Post he has no interest in a censure, saying that would help Senate Republicans avoid responsibility for covering up for Trump.
“I’m not bailing them out,” he said.
The draft of Manchin’s censure resolution, provided by his office Monday night, leads off by saying Trump used the presidential office “to attempt to compel a foreign nation to interfere with domestic political affairs for his own personal benefit.”
It goes on to say Trump hindered the congressional investigation, refused to let witnesses with firsthand knowledge of his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelinskiy testify and “abused the trust of the American people.”
The resolution had not been introduced, as of Monday evening.