Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) played the hand-wringing game throughout the now mercifully concluded Senate impeachment trial. First, he equivocated about the need for new witnesses and documents, appearing to break with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in public interviews by at least hinting that he might not vote with his fellow Democrats. And of course, when crunch time came on that vote, he fell in line with the rest, as all Democrats voted together in their attempt to destroy constitutional responsibilities of the Senate through conversion to an investigative body, not a sitting as a jury.
And then he teased Americans with the same “will I or won’t I” shtick in the lead-up to the crucial vote on the articles of impeachment on Wednesday. He knows full well that West Virginians are major supporters of the President, and so he had to at least publicly convey that he was being thoughtful and open-minded during the trial. But that was all for public consumption, as he voted in lockstep with the entire Democrat caucus to convict the President on both articles of impeachment.
On Friday, in an interview with Bill Hemmer on Fox News Channel, Manchin tried to explain his vote. Hemmer introduced that Q&A by stating that he previously interviewed the Republican Senator from West Virginia, Shelley Moore Capito, about Manchin’s votes to convict. She said that, “West Virginians are mystified by his vote.” She further remarked on Thursday:
I can tell you, it’s not being received well at home. … Probably Senator Schumer pulled the noose a little tight and said, “Come one, everybody, we’re gonna jump off this cliff together, and back here, West Virginians are very surprised.
Apparently, Manchin wanted a chance to respond to those remarks and submitted to an interview with Hemmer on Friday. Here is some of that Q&A:
Hemmer: … Your first TV interview on the vote for article one and article two that came down on guilty, ultimately acquitted as you well know. What do you think about what Sen. Capito said about that.
Manchin: Well, Shelley’s my friend, and we just see this different. … And I think Shelley knows … I don’t know why that statement was made … who knows … but the bottom line is that Shelley knows me well enough that nobody can pull my chain or tie a noose around me or do any of that. I’m the most conservative Democrat in all of Congress. I vote more on a bipartisan line than anybody else. So my goodness, I’ve taken some tough votes that are very unpopular with the caucus, and I’m sure that Schumer and everybody else might not have been happy with it, but it was a vote that I could live with.
Me: What a bunch of malarkey (as Joe Biden might say)! Manchin ALWAYS votes with the Democrat caucus as coordinated by Chuck Schumer unless the issue is a minor one in which Manchin is allowed to “stray” in order to give the appearance to West Virginians that he is “bipartisan.” That’s how it’s done to fool the people back home. In all of the tough votes that truly counted – especially during this impeachment farce – he voted with Schumer and against the wishes of the majority of West Virginians.
Manchin continued: And I said that if I could come home and explain it, I could vote for it. I can explain this vote. It might not be popular in my state right now, and we’ll just see. History will tell. The bottom line is that the evidence was very clear, and I was hoping – and I truly was hoping – that we would see new evidence, and we would see new witnesses, and maybe could get some doubt or clarity to it, but what we saw was overwhelming.
Me: More horse manure. There was no evidence of an impeachable evidence whatsoever. The only evidence presented by the House managers was hearsay and the personal opinions of Democrat witnesses, and that the only direct evidence presented actually exonerated the President. He also brushes aside the cogent arguments of the President’s legal team throughout the trial as if they never happened, which destroyed every single argument made by the House managers. And that bit about new witnesses and documents? He’s trying to fuzz the real issue that he supported the Democrat position to change the Senate’s constitutional function from that of a sitting jury to an investigative body. He can’t spin it any other way.
Hemmer: You floated the idea of a censure [in your remarks before the vote] that went nowhere. How do you go from censure to guilty on both counts?
Me: This question was outstanding, and something that any American can easily understand. It’s why I like Hemmer above all the other daytime commentators on Fox News Channel.
Manchin: Well, I was looking to see whether there was anyone that was willing to slow this down, and let’s see if we can get more input. And I thought censure might be a way that we could have gotten a bipartisan – and I wanted it to be bipartisan – I did everything I could. But my goodness, everyone was already in the trenches; they weren’t moving at all.
Me: A ridiculously spun answer that is intellectually incoherent! You can’t believe that the only action warranted is censure one moment and then vote to convict. He was merely tossing out the bipartisan bone again to his constituents, but when the rubber hit the road, he voted to convict along with every other Democrat senator. Here he bleated the meaningless bipartisan baloney – “I was trying to be bipartisan, but everyone else was just locked in.” What a load of manure! His blathering about “bipartisanship” is a throwaway line that he uses all the time. Then it got down to brass tacks, he voted the partisan Democrat line with the rest of them.
Manchin continued: And I labored over this. It was the most difficult decision I’ve ever made since I’ve been in Congress or in public life. And I’ve never been on jury duty before to set [sic] and listen to all of the testimony back and forth and back and forth, and I took the President at his word when he said I cannot get a fair trial in the House, but I definitely can get one in the Senate. I wanted to make sure he did. So, I wanted to make sure he got witnesses that he said he wanted, and I thought that would bring clarity to it. That never came.
Me: He voted with Chuck Schumer on his supposedly most difficult decision of his career. What does that tell you about his politics? All his public statements can been thrown in the trashcan as meaningless spin for the rubes at home (which is what he really thinks about them).
Manchin continued: The gameplan was basically, I guess … two ways you can look at this … if you’re not gonna give us any new witnesses, and the defense is not gonna fight, then they’re gonna say it’s not defendable – the charges that were made – or you already had the count on the jury, and the jury was yours. But that’s not (garbled)…
Me: That’s ridiculous! The President’s legal team demolished the House managers’ arguments – on the Constitution, on the law, and on the two articles of impeachment themselves. There is no way a sensible person watching the trial could conclude otherwise.
Hemmer: You know how popular the President is in your home state. … You tweeted out that politics had no factor in your decision. What do you say to the people back home about that?
Manchin: I just said, people know me … I’ve been 37 years in public service in many different positions and governor, and the bottom line is that they don’t always agree with some of the positions I take, but I take a very serious position and look at it and do my due diligence, and I did … I didn’t study anything more thorough [sic] than this. And the thing that kept getting into it was basically the Federalist 65, when Hamilton labored over this more than anything else – impeachment … involvement in a foreign government …
Me: What garbled, mangled nonsense! He claims he didn’t study any issue more thoroughly than this one. Riiiiight. See my last comment above. And then he completely misconstrues Federalist 65 in which James Madison expressed grave concerns about partisan factionalism in a future House of Representatives, which led the Founders to narrowly scope the Constitution’s impeachment clause in order to be a firewall against exactly the kind of impeachment farce perpetrated on President Trump. In short, Manchin lied through his teeth.
Manchin: There was no doubt what the President’s phone call was in reference to – basically Zelensky wanting a favor – and here we are trying to protect and promote democracy around the world, and the most powerful person in the world calls the most inexperienced new leader of a country that’s fighting Russia in their own backyard. And that’s just an affront that I couldn’t get over, and when the only defense made Professor Dershowitz saying, “If the President does it … in the best interests of the country … and that means doing whatever … just for his election … then it’s okay.” And I can’t get there. That’s not what the Constitution says.
Me: More gobbledygook and spin. The President’s release of those two phone call transcripts gutted the Democrats’ case for impeachment, and he and they know it. Americans read the transcripts for themselves; they didn’t buy the Democrats’ spin. And he misconstrues Dershowitz’s remarks by shrinking his argument down to a soundbite.
Hemmer: Jerry Nadler was asked whether or not they’re going to investigate again. He gave an indication they’re willing to pursue other avenues of investigation. Do you think it comes back…
Manchin (interrupting): I think they’re crazy. Well, I’m hoping that the President has learned … Mr. President, we are equal powers. We were designed differently than any other government in the world…
Me: Another throwaway soundbite from Manchin. It sounds good and reasonable now, but it means nothing, as the House Democrats will do what they’ve been intent on doing since Inauguration Day (investigating and impeaching the President at all costs). If the House Democrats ever send more articles of impeachment to the Senate, Manchin will be manning the barricades again right along with Chuck Schumer and the rest of the Democrat caucus, mark my words.
Hemmer: I understand where you’re going with that answer, but I’m asking you, would you support your Democrat colleagues in pursuing that again?
Manchin: No, absolutely not, unless the President continues in using rogue proxies such as Rudy Giuliani running around playing with foreign policy … from the election process. I would think that the President would not do that, and I don’t think if he didn’t realize that he had done it … it did happen … and it’s got to stop. One person who’s voted with him … one person who’s had a good relationship with the President … if it move me that much … because I usually give him the benefit of the doubt … this moved me that much … then I would hope that he would take a pause and say, “hey, we’re not doing this anymore; we’re out of the game now.”
Me: More meaningless blather. The President didn’t do anything wrong, as the direct testimony, his legal team’s arguments, the transcripts, and the public statements by President Zelensky himself attest. Manchin claims that the President’s use of Giuliani was “wrong” but ignores the fact that virtually every president has used trusted people outside of government in foreign affairs. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing that. Again, Manchin parrots the party line on Giuliani, as the Democrats are deathly afraid of what he has uncovered about Democrat corruption in Ukraine.
Will he pay a political price for those votes? Has he signed his own political death warrant in West Virginia with his impeachment votes? I would dearly love to see the very articulate sitting governor of West Virginia, Jim Justice, run against Manchin in 2024. Justice isn’t a hard-core Republican per se (having switched parties previously), but he would be far better than Manchin who is a reliable Democrat vote for Chuck Schumer on all of the issues that matter most.