Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) could soon become the most powerful person in Congress as he stands alone as the singular moderate Democrat in the Senate.
He showed the beginning signs of that Monday evening, during an interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier, telling the anchor he doesn’t see enough support in the Senate to move forward with impeaching President Donald Trump, who is just days away from leaving the White House.
Manchin indicated the push is politically motivated by members of his own party, telling Baier House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) “know the votes aren’t there” to convict Trump.
Even more importantly, though, Manchin called the effort “so ill-advised,” noting it will only further divide the country as President-elect Joe Biden is claiming his intentions are to unite citizens together during his term in office, beginning next week.
“I think this is so ill-advised for Joe Biden to be coming in, trying to heal the country, trying to be the president of all the people, when we’re going to be so divided and fighting again,” the senator explained. “Let the judicial system do its job.”
“And then, we’re a country of the rule of law,” Manchin continued. “That’s the bedrock of who we are. Let that take its place. Let the investigations go on. Let the evidence come forth, and then we will go forward from there. There’s no rush to do this impeachment now. We can do it later if they think it’s necessary.”
Biden, for his part, is asking if Congress if they will be able to move forward with the impeachment of Trump while at the same time begin passing his legislation.
Baier then played a clip from his November 2020 interview with Manchin, when the West Virginia lawmaker voiced his opposition to the “Defund the Police” movement and the push for Medicare for All.
The senator said at the time the country “can’t even pay for medicare for some.”
“It’s all true, Bret,” Manchin said after being asked if his opinions have changed any since the election. “It’s all the same. Nothing’s changed. … My job right now, being in the position I am — always being in the middle — is basically I’m gonna do everything in my power to bring this country together, to heal the country, and to work in a bipartisan fashion, which is the reason we have the Senate. I’m gonna do the job I’ve always done. I’m gonna try working with the minority and the majority and, now that we’re split, we need to bring this country together and I think people want us to.”
The Fox News host went on to ask Manchin if he would abandon the Democratic Party and become an independent if he felt the “pressure was too great” from within his own party.
In response, Manchin laughed and said he has no intention of leaving the party, telling Baier he feels “very comfortable” as a “good ole West Virginia conservative Democrat … who loves my proud West Virginia Republicans.”
“I’m too old to be pressured,” Manchin said with a smile. “I mean, my goodness. What are they gonna do to me? I love my country. I love the process we have. I want the democracy to work. I respect my Republican, my friends, and I tried like the dickens to work with the president for three years. I always want my president to succeed. And I want Joe Biden to succeed. I’m gonna do everything I can and I’d like to think my Republican colleagues feel the same.”
Democrats are moving forward this week with impeachment articles against Trump, which, if successful, would make the Republican leader the first president in American history to be impeached twice. Several Republicans, it should be noted, have called on Trump to resign in the wake of the deadly riot in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.