Just a couple weeks ago, the doomsday pundits were trying to convince us that Democratic Senator Joe Manchin might cast a deciding vote to acquit Donald Trump. Meanwhile, back in the real world, Manchin loyally votes with the Democrats 100% of the time whenever his vote is the deciding one. He only votes with the Republicans on things where it’s not going to come down to one vote anyway, so he can go home to his red state of West Virginia and tell them he votes in bipartisan fashion. This is true whether you want to believe it or not; go look up his voting record if you must.
Now Joe Manchin is revealing his actual plan for the impeachment trial. The Senate Republicans have made clear that they’re not going to call witnesses, and they’re not going to convict Trump. They have the majority, so there’s nothing any Democrat can do to change this. But this evening Manchin introduced a measure to censure Trump instead of acquitting him. Manchin, who has close relationships with some of the Republican Senators who are the most nervous about how a sham acquittal might blow back on them, is asserting that there are the votes to censure Trump.
In terms of right and wrong and fairness, a censure isn’t acceptable. Donald Trump is guilty of high crimes, and he should be convicted and removed. But the Republicans won’t let that happen. If Manchin has indeed managed to talk enough Senate Republicans into voting to censure Trump, it would be a huge political victory for the Democrats. It would allow them to go into the 2020 election pointing out that even Trump’s own fellow Republicans have acknowledged his wrongdoing. And it would kill Trump’s narrative about having made a perfect phone call and so on.
Senate Republicans should never, ever be trusted to do the right thing simply for its own sake. But we’ve seen that they are willing to do the right thing if it happens to coincidentally line up with whatever they think is best for their own careers. Keep in mind that they already selfishly decided not to let Trump have impeachment trial witnesses such as Hunter Biden, like he wanted. We’ll see if the censure movement goes anywhere. But if it does, it’ll mean Joe Manchin of all people saved the day by turning the impeachment trial into a win for Democrats and a loss for Trump.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report