Manchin will vote to convict Trump

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinHillicon Valley: Facebook removes Trump post | TikTok gets competitor | Lawmakers raise grid safety concerns OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court cancels shutdown of Dakota Access Pipeline | US could avoid 4.5M early deaths by fighting climate change, study finds | Officials warn of increasing cyber threats to critical infrastructure during pandemic Officials warn of increasing cyber threats to critical infrastructure during pandemic MORE, a centrist Democrat whose home state of West Virginia gave President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoe Arpaio loses bid for his old position as sheriff Trump brushes off view that Russia denigrating Biden: 'Nobody's been tougher on Russia than I have' Trump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet MORE his biggest margin of victory in 2016, said he would vote Wednesday with other Senate Democrats to convict the president on two articles of impeachment.

"The charges brought against President Trump are serious and carry grave consequences for our nation," he 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," he added.

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Manchin’s decision is a setback for Trump, who was hoping to be able to point to a bipartisan acquittal in the Senate trial.

"We expect a bipartisan vote in the United States Senate," Vice President Pence had said earlier Wednesday in an interview with Fox News. "The only bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives was against the articles of impeachment. And we expect a bipartisan vote in the United States Senate today."

Instead, it’s Senate Democrats who can claim a bipartisan vote to remove the president from office after Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyFrom a Republican donor to Senate GOP: Remove marriage penalty or risk alienating voters Tennessee primary battle turns nasty for Republicans NRCC poll finds McBath ahead of Handel in Georgia MORE (R-Utah) shocked his colleagues Wednesday afternoon by announcing he would vote to convict Trump of abuse of power.

Another key centrist, Sen. Doug Jones (D) of Alabama, which gave Trump a 28-point margin of victory in 2016, announced earlier Wednesday he would vote to convict Trump on both articles.

Manchin narrowly won reelection to a third term by a 3.3 percentage point margin in 2018 but last year flirted with a possible run for governor, a job he held from 2005 to 2010.

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Manchin had signaled Monday that he might vote against impeaching Trump when he floated the alternative idea of a bipartisan resolution to censure the president.

He predicted on the Senate floor that a censure would “formally denounce the president’s actions and hold him accountable.”

“His behavior cannot go unchecked by the Senate, and censure would allow a bipartisan statement condemning his unacceptable behavior in the strongest terms,” he said.

But the idea fell flat on Tuesday after centrists such as Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Negotiators 'far apart' as talks yield little ahead of deadline Trump-backed Hagerty wins Tennessee GOP Senate primary The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Key 48 hours loom as negotiators push for relief deal MORE (R-Tenn.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsFrom a Republican donor to Senate GOP: Remove marriage penalty or risk alienating voters The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus New polls show tight races for Graham, McConnell MORE (R-Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOn The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire Hillicon Valley: Facebook removes Trump post | TikTok gets competitor | Lawmakers raise grid safety concerns MORE (R-Alaska) dismissed the idea. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCoronavirus talks collapse as negotiators fail to reach deal Pelosi, Schumer say White House declined T coronavirus deal COVID-19 bill limiting liability would strike the wrong balance MORE (R-Ky.) also made clear the idea was a non-starter.

Manchin appeared anguished over his decision as he wrestled with the pros and cons of voting to remove Trump from office.

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“I am truly struggling with this decision and will come to a conclusion reluctantly, as voting whether or not to remove a sitting president is the most consequential decision that I, or any U.S. senator, will ever face,” he said Monday.

Manchin was viewed as the Democrat most likely to support Trump’s acquittal after he was the only Democrat to support the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughMcConnell has 17-point lead over Democratic challenger McGrath: poll Davis: My recommendation for vice president on Biden ticket Kavanaugh urged Supreme Court to avoid decisions on Trump finances, abortion: report MORE in October 2018 after a bitter partisan fight.

Some Republican strategists thought the vote ensured his reelection a month later.

A recent poll commissioned by Club for Growth, a conservative advocacy group, showed that nearly half of West Virginia voters would view Manchin more negatively if he voted to remove Trump for office.

Patrick Hickey, a professor of political science at West Virginia University, said that voters “in general in West Virginia” think that Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDemocratic convention lineup to include Ocasio-Cortez, Clinton, Warren: reports Whitmer met with Biden days before VP announcement: report Maxine Waters says Biden 'can't go home without a Black woman being VP' MORE and the Democratic impeachment effort were “all basically a political game.”

He said Manchin’s constituents wanted him to acquit Trump and speculated there was little reason for Manchin to take a risk since Democrats had no chance of getting the 67 votes needed to actually remove Trump from office.

“Why are you going to go against a majority of what your constituents want if it makes no practical difference?” he said.

Hickey said Manchin helped himself politically by voting for Kavanaugh in 2018.

“If you look back at 2018, that race was a lot closer than people expected. It was only a 3 or 4 percentage point margin that Manchin won by, and I would bet that the Kavanaugh vote is that margin of victory,” he added. 

Brett Samuels contributed.