Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), a moderate Democrat representing deep-red West Virginia, has signaled that he could vote to acquit President Donald Trump in the upper chamber’s impeachment trial.
Speaking to Politico, Manchin said he would vote for the abuse of power article — and against the obstruction of justice measure — if he “can explain one and not the other.” However, on Tuesday, the West Virginia Democrat reaffirmed that he will remain undecided until the trial draws to a close.
“I know it’s hard to believe that. But I really am [undecided]. But I have not made a final decision. Every day, I hear something, I think ‘this is compelling, that’s compelling,’” he told the news outlet Tuesday. “Everyone’s struggling a little bit.”
Manchin’s remarks come after he broke with Democrats, saying Wednesday that he believes Hunter Biden, the youngest son of former Vice President and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden, is a relevant witness in the trial.
“You know, I think so,” Manchin told MSNBC’s Morning Joe when asked if senators should hear from Biden. “I really do. I don’t have a problem there because this is why we are where we are. Now, I think that he could clear himself of what I know and what I’ve heard, but being afraid to put anybody that might have pertinent information is wrong no matter if you’re a Democrat or Republican — and not go home and say, ‘Well, I protected one …’ No, if it’s relevant, it should be there.”
In addition to Manchin, Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), who holds one of the Senate’s most vulnerable seats, also is uncertain about his vote.
“I don’t think I’ve totally decided. I certainly have [been] leaning one way or the other,” Jones told Politico. “I am leaning in certain ways but I want to hear, I truly, honestly, want to hear the entire trial.”
With opening arguments completed, the Senate will get its opportunity Wednesday to begin asking questions in the trial.
President Trump’s defense team finished making its case on Tuesday, after defending the president against charges that he abused his power and obstructed a congressional investigation related to his dealings with Ukraine last year. The president’s attorneys argued for an acquittal. Democrat managers spent three days last week arguing why his conduct in withholding vital Ukrainian aid and pressing Kiev to investigate a political rival is grounds for his removal from office.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the impeachment trial will now move into the questioning phase. Under its rules, the Senate will spend a total of 16 hours — 8 hours for each side — making inquiries of both sides.
The question stage should offer at least some insight as to the mindset of potential Republican “swing” voters. Democrats need at least four Republican senators to side with them in their plan to file a motion to include witnesses and new evidence in the case. That, and other motions, will receive a vote following the questioning phase.
Wednesday’s session will begin at 1:00 P.M. EST.
The UPI contributed to this report.