The outcome of Donald Trump’s Senate trial was never in doubt. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it plain from the beginning that his only interest was to get things over with as quickly as possible. His Republican colleagues eagerly acquiesced, fearful of blowback from Trump supporters at home, and terrified of Trump’s wrath.
Therefore, it was not really a surprise when West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican, voted on February 5 to acquit Trump of all charges. Capito has staunchly defended Donald Trump throughout all the scandals that have plagued his presidency, and supported virtually everything enacted by his administration, from the policy of separating children from their parents at the border to allowing coal operators to more easily pollute West Virginia’s waterways.
The state’s other Senator, Democrat Joe Manchin, voted to convict Trump on all charges, a decision that may well cost him his political future in a state where most people believe Trump is the Second Coming of Christ.
After voting, Manchin said, “The evidence presented by the House Managers, including video testimony of witnesses under oath in the House of Representatives, clearly supports the charges brought against the President in the articles of impeachment. Despite the false claim that a President can do no wrong, the President is not entitled to act with blatant disregard for an equal branch of government or use the superpower status of the United States to condition our support of democracy and our allies on any political favor.”
Pundits and social media have been quick to blast Manchin. “See? Joe is just another liberal bent on destroying this wonderful president, the best president ever.” The fact is Manchin, more than any other Democratic Senator, has sided with the Trump administration.
Manchin supported Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, voted for now-departed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt (who left under a cloud after numerous scandals) and backed the president’s hard-line immigration proposals. He voted to fund the border wall. He voted to confirm the majority of Trump’s cabinet nominees. The list goes on and on; Manchin has voted with the administration over 60 percent of the time.
This isn’t the type of unfettered loyalty a wannabe dictator like Trump demands, and Trump himself has delighted in taking jabs at Manchin for not supporting him 100 percent of the time. Still, Manchin has voted with Trump more often than any other Democratic senator.
Manchin’s fellow Democrats have taken jabs at him as well. Some of them see him as a political flounder, willing to flip flop like a fish on a pier to keep the West Virginians who love Trump happy. As a Democratic Senator in a state that has turned from blue to bright red, Manchin has had to perform a delicate balancing act to keep his job. He’s been mostly successful even though many West Virginia conservatives and liberals alike lambaste him for “selling out” to the other side in order to remain in his Senate seat.
While Capito marched in lockstep with her fellow Republicans, Joe Manchin voted correctly on February 5. It’s painfully obvious, except to craven Senate Republicans and gullible voters who keep buying into endless lies, that Donald Trump abused the powers of his office and should have been removed. Capito knows it. Her Republican colleagues know it.
It was reported that if the Senate had been able to vote by secret ballot, 35 of 53 Republican Senators would have voted to convict, and Trump would now be a private citizen. Such is the absolutely vapid support Trump has from his own party behind closed doors.
The Republican Party has completely hitched its fortunes to Trump so Shelley Moore Capito’s vote was a foregone conclusion. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, also hitched a great deal of his fortunes to Trump — a bit too enthusiastically, some of his detractors claim.
But on February 5, Manchin stood tall and voted in the best interests of the country, and not what was best for his political fortunes. It’s a shame that Capito and other Republicans didn’t have the same intestinal fortitude.