Manchin defends impeachment trial vote to oust Trump, says he wanted more evidence to acquit

Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., reacted Friday to claims from his Senate colleague that his constituents are not happy with his vote to convict and remove President Trump in the Senate impeachment trial this week.

Manchin defended his position on "Bill Hemmer Reports," saying that the vote was the toughest decision he's made in public life, and that he hoped to come to the opposite conclusion. However, Manchin also criticized the president's use of "rogue proxies" to set foreign policy, singling out former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.


On Thursday, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said Manchin's decision is "not being received well here at home," and claimed that Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. likely "pulled the noose a little tight [around his caucus] and said 'Come on, everybody, we are going to jump off this cliff together'."

Manchin rejected the assertion that he operates in lockstep with or under threat of blowback from Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, and said that he and Capito are good friends and he simply disagreed with her remarks.

"We see this differently. We talk about it. We see it different and I think Shelly knows ... no one can pull my chain or tie a noose around me -- I'm the most conservative Democrat in all of Congress," he said after host Bill Hemmer noted he was back in Charleston when Capito spoke Thursday.

Manchin noted that he has taken many votes that are unpopular with his Democratic caucus but endeared him to the GOP. He said his mantra when considering a resolution is that if "I can explain it, I can vote for it," adding that his 37-year public service record speaks for itself.

He said the evidence was "overwhelming" in House managers' favor when it came to impeaching Trump and lamented that the president's team did not want additional witnesses or documents subpoenaed in the Senate trial. He said witnesses would have ve possibly brought more clarity to the president's case and convinced him to vote to acquit.

The most damning part of the Senate trial, he said, was an argument by Harvard Law Emeritus Professor Alan Dershowitz -- who has claimed his remarks were taken out of context.


"The most powerful person in the world calls the most inexperienced new leader of a country that's fighting Russia in their own backyard -- that's just an affront that I couldn't get over [and] when the only defense that was made was Professor Dershowitz saying if the president does it and if it's in the best interest of the country and that means him doing whatever, even for his election, then it's OK. I can't get there. That's not what the Constitution says," Manchin explained.

When Hemmer asked about comments made by House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., that indicated House Democrats will pursue other avenues of investigation, Manchin shot down the idea that he would support going back over the Ukraine case and pursuing further allegations against Trump.

"Absolutely not," he replied. "Unless the president continues using rogue proxies such as Rudy Giuliani running around playing with foreign policy within the election process.

"I'm hoping that the president has learned: Mr. President, we are equal powers," Manchin added. "We were designed differently than any other, any other government in the [world]."