BLUEFIELD — On the eve his party taking control of the Senate and handing him chairmanship of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, said Tuesday that the evidence to convict President Trump in an impeachment trial is “overwhelming.”
Manchin, a centrist if not conservative Democrat, said he will continue to vote his conscience.
Speaking with reporters about his plans and concerns for the country with Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States, Manchin said he will wield power responsibly.
“I have seen power. I have seen people that have had it, and abused it,” Manchin said. “I have seen people think they have power and really abuse it. That does not work at all and I have been around too long for that.
“I am determined that this place is going to work and we are going to have the committees working, we are going to have amendments on the floor and debates,” Manchin said. “If I can make that happen, then I am happy to take all of the criticism that comes with it.”
In the wake of the attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, Manchin said he feels safe.
“The mood is determined, we are determined to make sure this government is still going to be a beacon of hope around the world,” Manchin said. “We will get it done. We are determined to make that happen, the same as we were determined last Wednesday, they rushed us out when we were getting ready to vote and put us in a secured room, we were determined to get back into our Senate chamber and finish our voting. We stayed until 4 a.m. the next morning to make sure that it got done.”
In regards to President Donald Trump’s upcoming second impeachment trial, Manchin told reporters he will vote according to the evidence presented to him and that he takes his oath of office seriously. He added that he hoped the House of Representatives would hold the articles for 100 days to allow President-elect Joe Biden time to “put his government together and for people to have confidence.”
When the House first impeached Trump last year, Manchin voted to convict on both articles of impeachment, although Trump was acquitted with nearly unanimous Republican support.
Manchin was one of a small group of Democratic senators who had telegraphed a possible vote for acquittal. A Democrat from a state that Trump won by 40 percentage points in both 2016 and 2020, Manchin has bucked his party before and was the only Democrat to vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Manchin was also twice considered for the post of Energy Secretary in the Trump administration.
“(House members) believe strongly, and a lot of us believe strongly, that if there was ever a reason for our founding fathers to have the Articles of Impeachment in the Constitution, this was it,” Manchin said. “Sedition was it. That is exactly what happened, so we have to make sure that we go through the process.”
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Because Democrats picked up two former Republican senate seats in a pair of runoffs in Georgia and because a Democrat now occupies the White House, they control the Senate – which is evenly divided 50-50. New Vice President Kamala Harris holds the vote to break all ties.
Because of the razor thin margin, Manchin – along with a small group of centrists from both parties – holds considerable power.
“I am in this position because over the 10 years I have been there, I have been the most centrist voter,” West Virginia’s senior senator said. “I vote in the middle, so if you look at my voting record, it is 50/50 almost.
“If it makes sense, a good idea, I am for it,” Manchin said. “If it doesn’t, I don’t vote for it. If I can go home and explain it to West Virginians, that is my litmus test. Can I explain it back home, do they understand it? If they want to put stuff up thinking all of the sudden now, ‘Joe Manchin, he will vote against this, or for that,’ then they are sadly mistaken. I do not operate that way and they all know it and I have told them.”