Sen. Joe Manchin defended his vote to convict President Donald Trump on the two articles of impeachment approved by the House after the president attacked him on social media as “weak” and “pathetic.”
“Can’t say I mind the fact that the great people of West Virginia are furious at their puppet Democrat Senator, Joe Manchin,” Trump tweeted Saturday night without elaborating on how he had determined the people of Manchin’s state were upset.
“They will never forget his phony vote on the Impeachment Hoax,” Trump’s tweet continued.
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“No Democrat has worked harder in a bipartisan way in the hopes that you would succeed,” said Manchin, a moderate Democrat in pro-Trump West Virginia, in response to the president’s attacks.
© Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 25, 2020, as work resumes…
The president was impeached on articles of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress stemming from allegations he used miliary aid to pressure Ukraine into opening investigations for his political benefit.
Soon after the allegations surfaced in September, Trump released a readout from a July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which he says was “perfect” and proved he did nothing wrong. Trump has repeatedly posted tweets calling on people to “read the transcript” but Democrats said the phone call – in which he asks Zelensky for a “favor” – actually proves Trump’s guilt.
“All he had to do is read the Transcripts, sadly, which he wouldn’t understand anyway,” Trump said of Manchin in his tweet on Saturday.
On Sunday, Trump mocked Manchin as “Senator Joe Munchkin” and repeated his insult of Manchin’s intelligence, tweeting, “He couldn’t understand the transcripts.”
Read the transcript: The summary of President Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine president
“I’ve read the transcripts thoroughly & listened to the witnesses under oath,” Manchin replied.
“Where I come from a person accused defends themselves with witnesses and evidence,” he added, referring to the White House’s refusal to cooperate with the investigation and its order for administration officials not to testify.
Manchin was one of a handful of Democratic senators who indicated they might vote for acquittal. A Democrat from a state that Trump won by 40 percentage points, Manchin has bucked his party before and was the only Democrat to vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
“I am truly struggling with this decision and will come to a conclusion reluctantly,” Manchin said two days before the impeachment vote. He even suggested a vote to censure Trump instead of removing him. But that proposal was quickly rejected by Republicans and all Democrats, including Manchin, voted to convict the president.
Trump also went after Manchin by taking credit for one of his legislative accomplishments, which protected a coal miners’ union pension fund from insolvency.
“I got the Pension Bill approved, Manchin couldn’t do it,” Trump tweeted, in an apparent reference to the Bipartisan American Miners Act of 2019, which Manchin introduced in November. The bill, which protected the pensions about 100,000 retired coal miners, was passed as an addition to the $1.37 trillion spending package approved in December.
Manchin tweeted that the people of West Virginia “know exactly who has worked day & night for the last 5 years to secure their healthcare & pensions & it wasn’t you.”
Since his acquittal, Trump has aggressively criticized those who voted for his removal and has conflated the impeachment process with the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election as part of a conspiracy against him. He has attacked his opponents as “evil” and “scum,” and has fired administration officials who testified against him in the impeachment inquiry.
The president also repeated his attacks on Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., whose husband, former Rep. John Dingell, died last year. He said Dingell called him after her husband’s death, “tears flowing,” to thank him for “rolling out the maximum ‘Red Carpet,'” and implied she acted ungratefully by voting for his impeachment.
In her previous replies to the president’s attacks, Dingell said she was thankful the president ordered flags lowered to half staff to honor her late husband. But she denied asking for any special treatment and said her husband, a World War II veteran, had earned the honors he was given.
‘Some things should be off-limits’: Dingell calls for civility after Trump’s attack on late husband
Trump has touted recent polling as evidence that his acquittal was a political win that will sweep his opponents away.
Manchin and Romney are up for reelection in 2024.
On Saturday night, Trump shared a clip of Fox News host Jeanine Pirro calling for Romney to be “removed from office.”
“How about you get the hell out of the United States Senate?” Pirro said in the clip shared by the president. “The people in Utah are furious with you, and your dream of endearing yourself to the Trump-hating left is a joke.”
On Sunday, Trump claimed in his tweets that Romney, like Manchin, did not read the transcript.
“Romney hurt some very good Republican Senators, and he was wrong about the Impeachment Hoax. No clue!” in response to Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel’s assertion that Romney had hurt GOP senators facing tough reelection fights.
In his speech on the Senate floor explaining how he planned to vote, Romney said Trump’s dealings with Ukraine were far from “perfect.”
“No, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security interests, and our fundamental values,” Romney said. He said that many people had called him and texted him to vote with this fellow Republicans, but he said he could not “ignore the evidence that has been presented, and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end.”
“I am aware that there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision, and in some quarters, I will be vehemently denounced. I am sure to hear abuse from the President and his supporters,” Romney said. “Does anyone seriously believe I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?”
Contributing: Bart Jansen and Christal Hayes, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
Slide 1 of 81: US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts walks out of the Senate chamber after the Senate impeachment vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on February 5, 2020. The US Senate acquitted President Donald Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress following a historic two-week trial.Full screen1/81 SLIDES © Mandel Ngan, AFP via Getty Images US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts walks out of the Senate chamber after the Senate impeachment vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on February 5, 2020. The US Senate acquitted President Donald Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress following a historic two-week trial.