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Manchin, Capito discuss second Trump impeachment trial ahead of article delivery


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The U.S. Senate will receive an article of impeachment against former President Donald Trump on Monday, with the chamber scheduled to begin the related trial next month.

West Virginia’s senators and their colleagues will be jurors in the country’s second impeachment trial since January 2020. This time, however, the impeached person is not someone currently holding public office.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., explained the steps of the impeachment trial last Friday; House of Representatives managers will deliver the article of impeachment Monday evening, and senators will be sworn in Tuesday. House managers and Trump’s defense team will have until Feb. 2 to submit a pretrial brief and response to the article respectively.

“During that period, the Senate will continue to do other business for the American people, such as Cabinet nominations and the COVID relief bill, which will provide relief to millions of Americans who are suffering during this pandemic,” Schumer said.

Both parties will present their arguments during the week of Feb. 8.

The House impeached Trump on Jan. 13 for inciting the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, making the 45th president of the United States the first president impeached twice. Ten Republicans sided with House Democrats in approving the article. West Virginia Reps. David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Carol Miller opposed a second impeachment.

Trump will also be the first president to have their impeachment trial happen after leaving office.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., hoped the House would wait on impeachment to allow Congress to confirm nominees for President Joe Biden’s Cabinet and pass coronavirus legislation.

“I mean, pretty much you could see the evidence unfold before you if you watched television,” he told MetroNews.

“We are still a country of the rule of law. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and (Trump) has the absolute right to defend himself.”

Manchin said Trump incited the riot by encouraging supporters to attend a rally outside of the White House before the violent demonstration, pushing claims of widespread voter fraud, and saying then-Vice President Mike Pence could reject electoral votes.

Manchin, like the article of impeachment, also noted Trump pressured Georgia officials to change the state’s election results.

“With all the things we have seen,” Manchin said, “if there’s an explanation, I want to hear them.”

Manchin and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., were in the Senate chamber when Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, halting the certification of the presidential election results. Five people died because of the insurrection, and the rioters damaged the legislative building.

“As I look back on that, I’m just incredibly appalled by the invasion into the United States Capitol, the destruction and the trashing of our basic attributes,” Capito said.

As Trump is no longer in office, Capito recognizes the trial is unprecedented and the possible outcomes are not clear.

“That’s a big question, and I’m not sure I have an answer to that yet,” she said.

Manchin said if the House wanted to prevent Trump from holding public office again, legislators should have instead cited Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars public officials from being in office if they led an insurrection or rebellion against the United States.

States ratified the 14th Amendment in the wake of the Civil War.

Manchin said during an appearance on PBS’s “Firing Line” the Senate should consider invoking the 14th Amendment to possibly remove Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri. Both senators have received backlash for protesting the votes of Arizona and Pennsylvania. Cruz and Hawley announced their objection plans ahead of Jan. 6.

Manchin told MetroNews the more probable punishment for Cruz and Hawley would be citations for violating ethics rules.

“If they were making phone calls during that period of time, if there’s a connection to any of the insurrectionists, any type of fundraising going on during that time in the middle of an attack on the Capitol, that’s up to the Ethics Committee to take up,” he said. “I think they’d be dealt with very harshly, and they should be.”

Seven Democratic senators have asked the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate Cruz and Hawley for their actions, which the lawmakers say “lent legitimacy to the mob’s cause and made future violence more likely.”

Hawley called the request “a flagrant abuse of the Senate ethics process and a flagrant attempt to exact partisan revenge.”

Capito said Cruz and Hawley should not be punished for questioning the election results.

“Quite honestly, if it were me, I would have folded my tent after I saw all of the mayhem that was going on,” she added. “I think it was unfortunate that Sen. Hawley did not do that. He had plenty of opportunities to say, ‘I made my point. I’m moving on.’”

Capito said earlier this month while she has questions about how some states handled the most recent election, the Senate should not reject certified results if there is no evidence of irregularities.

“At an absolute minimum, I believe that Congress should only consider rejecting the electoral votes certified by a state when there is clear and convincing evidence both that there was misconduct in that state’s election and that the result of the election would have been different absent that misconduct,” she said in a Jan. 4 statement.

Trump became the third president to be impeached when the House approved two articles of impeachment in December 2019; legislators charged Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress related to a phone call involving Ukraine’s leader.

The Senate acquitted Trump in February 2020, in which Manchin found Trump guilty of both charges and Capito twice voted not guilty. Two-thirds of senators have to vote guilty for an impeached individual to be convicted.

The 100-member Senate is split between Democrats and Republicans; Vice President Kamala Harris is responsible for casting a tiebreaking vote if needed.

Manchin said he is not confident there are enough Republican senators who would find Trump guilty. He noted all Democrats would vote to convict Trump.

“You need 17 (Republicans) to make 67,” he said.

Capito said she wants to listen to both sides of the trial before making a decision.

“I’m going to be the impartial juror I was the first time and make my decision at the end of that,” she said.

Ahead of Schumer’s announcement, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., proposed delaying the trial’s start until mid-February. McConnell has said Trump and “other powerful people” provoked the demonstrators, but McConnell has not publicly stated how he will vote.