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WASHINGTON – Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., called for the Senate to censure President Donald Trump, explaining Monday he was deeply torn about how he would vote on articles of impeachment later in the week.
Censuring Trump would formally express the Senate’s disapproval of his actions but would not remove him from office. The Senate votes on whether to acquit Trump or convict and remove him from office on Wednesday.
“I see no path to the 67 posts required to impeach President Trump and I haven’t since this trial started,” Manchin explained in a speech on the Senate floor. “However, I do believe a bipartisan majority of this body would vote to censure President Trump for his actions.”
He said censure “would allow this body to unite across party lines” and “formally denounce” Trump’s actions with Ukraine.
Manchin, a key Democratic vote representing a state Trump won, has refused to say how he will vote Wednesday.
“I remain undecided on how I will vote,” he said. “I am truly struggling with this decision and will come to a conclusion reluctantly,” he said.
Any effort to censure Trump would likely face an uphill battle. If Manchin attempted to introduce the resolution and have it adopted by unanimous consent, it would likely be blocked in the GOP-led Senate. If it were introduced like any other resolution, it would likely be referred to the relevant committee and simply be ignored by Republicans.
After his speech, Manchin acknowledged to Politico the effort would likely be dead on arrival but said he’d been trying to gain support from Republicans for “a while.”
“It’s a shame,” he told Politico.
Trump has already faced two failed attempts to censure him. One was due to the president’s comments after the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the other after Trump’s reported comments about African countries in a private meeting.
There have been more than a dozen attempts to censure other presidents in recent history, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. All failed.
The clearest successful censure was in 1834 against President Andrew Jackson. Resolutions were adopted three other times, against James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln and William Howard Taft, but they were amended and the original language rebuking the president was altered and obscured, according to the Congressional Research Service.
– Christal Hayes
Some GOP pour cold water on censuring Trump
Shortly before Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., said he supported a censure resolution against Trump on Monday, some Republican colleagues panned the idea.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who said in a statement Friday that “Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a President from office” told reporters that even with that view, he would rather wait until the election instead of censure.
“We have an election in nine months, and that’s in my mind, the appropriate way for people to take into account how they feel about what the President did. It’s the ultimate accountability,” Rubio said. “Removal is not a punishment. The House managers have said removal is designed to protect the country and that’s in the best interest of the country. I think the best interest in the country will be served by the American people in November in an election.”
Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., agreed, saying there was “zero” desire for a censure resolution and that the “first time he heard about it” was from reporters.
He reiterated that so “many senators had constituents that thought it was ill-founded, because it was so partisan.”
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-MO., simply said that it was “too late” for a censure vote.
– Savannah Behrmann
Parnas focused on impeachment as judge sets his trial
Lev Parnas, the man who eagerly offered to testify in the impeachment trial against the president he once admired, learned Monday he will face trial Oct. 5 on charges of breaking federal campaign finance law.
But he remained focused on the impeachment trial that entered its final days without any consideration of his bid to testify against Trump.
Asked after Monday’s hearing whether he would continue to seek a plea-bargain deal with prosecutors in his criminal case, Parnas pivoted to the impeachment trial.
“We’ve been the past month trying as strong as possible to be able to help the Senate, Congress and the world … know the truth on what has happened and what is happening” in a fight against a “powerful enemy,” Parnas said.
“I think the truth will come out, and we will all know and see what President Trump, Attorney General (William) Barr, Rudy Giuliani and their cohorts did in the Ukraine situation.”
Parnas helped Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, seek damaging information in Ukraine about former Vice President Joe Biden, one of Trump’s rivals in the 2020 presidential race.
– Kevin McCoy
Rep. Adam Schiff: Trump ‘will not change’
Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, the lead House Democrat prosecuting President Donald Trump, told senators they couldn’t wait for voters to decide whether to remove the president in November because he would undermine national security and try to cheat in the election until then.
“You can’t trust this president to do the right thing, not for one minute, not for one election, not for the sake of our country,” said Schiff, D-Calif., during closing arguments in the impeachment trial.
The Senate will vote Wednesday whether to acquit Trump or convict and remove him from office.
Schiff argued Trump wouldn’t change, particularly if the Senate acquits him, and pointed out past Trump actions as his evidence: Trump had publicly invited Russia to hack his Democratic opponents’ emails during the 2016 election and they did. He continued to pursue a lucrative real-estate deal in Russia during the campaign and his personal lawyer went to prison for lying about it. And the day after special counsel Robert Mueller testified about his investigation into Russian interference in that campaign, Trump spoke July 25 with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to urge the investigation of his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. The call was at the heart of the impeachment accusation of abuse of power.
“He has not changed. He will not change,” Schiff said. “A man without character or ethical compass will not find his way.”
Trump’s defense team had said the articles of impeachment, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, were too vague to enforce. The defense lawyers argued that Trump’s fate should be left in the hands of voters in November.
But Schiff said the chances that Trump would continue to try and cheat in the 2020 election were 100%.
“The scheming persists and the danger will never recede,” Schiff said.
Schiff closed by arguing the men who wrote the Constitution provided impeachment as a rare but significant tool to remove a president for misconduct.
“They gave us the tools to do the job, a remedy as powerful as the evil it was meant to constrain: impeachment,” Schiff said. “They meant it to be used rarely, but they put it in the Constitution for a reason. For a man who would sell out his country for a political favor. For a man who would threaten the integrity of our elections. For a man who would invite foreign interference in our affairs. For a man who would undermine our national security and that of our allies. For a man like Donald J. Trump.”
– Bart Jansen
Crow reads from children’s Constitution during impeachment trial
Taking his turn to sum up the House case against President Donald Trump in the Senate impeachment trial, Rep. Jason Crow read a passage that he inscribed on a copy of his children’s Constitution.
“Our founders recognized the failings of all people, so they designed a system to ensure that the ideas and principles contained in this document would always be greater than any one person,” said the Colorado Democrat, a former Army Ranger who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. “It’s the idea that no one is above the law. But our system only works if people stand up and fight for it. Fighting for something important always comes at a cost. Someday you may be called upon to defend the principles and ideas embodied in our Constitution. May the memory and spirit of those who sacrificed for them in the past guide you and give you strength as you fight for them in the future.”
– Bart Jansen
Ernst: comments on impeaching Biden ‘taken out of context’
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said Monday that her comments suggesting Republicans could move to impeach former Vice President Joe Biden over Ukraine if he were elected president were “taken entirely out of context.”
Ernst said Sunday: “I think this door of impeachable whatever has been opened. Joe Biden should be very careful what he’s asking for because, you know, we can have a situation where if it should ever be President Biden, that immediately people right the day after he would be elected would be saying, ‘Well, we’re going to impeach him.'”
On Monday, Ernst walked back her comments when speaking to reporters. “The point is that the Democrats have lowered the bar so far,” she said. “Regardless of who it is, if you have a different party in the House than that of an elected president, you could have just random comments thrown out there with folks saying, ‘We’re going to impeach.'”
In an interview Sunday with the Des Moines Register, part of the USA TODAY Network, Biden said Ernst’s comments and Trump’s decision to ask Ukraine to investigate his actions overseeing foreign policy in that country show that the president is afraid of running against him.
“They very much don’t want to face me, obviously,” Biden told the Register. “I’ve never seen a sitting president and his allies this frightened about who may be the nominee.”
– Savannah Behrmann and Nicholas Wu
Trump attorney: ‘reject’ impeachment, trust voters
White House counsel Pat Cipollone closed the defense of President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial by arguing that he did nothing wrong and the American people should decide who should hold the country’s highest office, rather than have the Senate remove him.
“It is wrong,” Cipollone said of the impeachment. “There is only one answer to that, and the answer is to reject those articles of impeachment, to have confidence in the American people, to have confidence in the result of the upcoming election, to have confidence and respect for the last election and not throw it out.”
Cipollone said the Senate could help end the “era of impeachment,” after three formal inquiries since 1974, by acquitting the president and leaving the decision about whether Trump should remain in office to the wisdom and judgment of voters in November.
“I urge you on behalf of every American, on behalf of all your constituents, to reject these articles of impeachment,” Cipollone said. “It’s the right thing for our country. The president has done nothing wrong. These types of impeachments must end.”
– Bart Jansen
Trump attorney: partisan impeachment is what founders feared
Jay Sekulow, a private lawyer who is part of President Donald Trump’s defense team, argued that House Democrats pursued a partisan impeachment that the country’s founders feared, saying “it should never happen again.”
“This is exactly and precisely what the founders feared,” Sekulow said. “This was the first totally partisan presidential impeachment in our nation’s history and it should be our last.”
Sekulow said the House essentially tried to usurp power by accusing Trump of abuse of power for his dealings in Ukraine. And Sekulow said the second article should fail because Trump’s defiance of subpoenas was for constitutional reasons such as protecting the confidentiality of advice from top aides.
“What the House Democrats have done to this nation, the Constitution, the office of the president, the president himself and to this body is outrageous,” Sekulow said. “They have cheapened the awesome power of impeachment and unfortunately, of course, the country is not better for that.”
– Bart Jansen
Trump attorney: Dems. didn’t follow the law in impeaching Trump
Patrick Philbin, deputy White House counsel, attacked the House’s impeachment inquiry as initially invalid and therefore invalidatd the rest of the impeachment leading to a Senate trial of President Donald Trump.
“In many important and significant respects, they didn’t follow the law,” Philbin said during closing arguments of Trump’s defense team in the impeachment trial Monday. “This was a purely partisan impeachment from the start.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., declared the impeachment inquiry on Sept. 23 without a vote in the House, as had traditionally happened. The House voted to authorize the inquiry Oct. 31 and then impeached Trump on Dec. 18.
The House has the sole authority in the Constitution to impeach officials in the executive and judicial branches, which is how Pelosi justified her announcement. But Philbin argued that Pelosi didn’t have the authority to announce the investigation and thus the 23 subpoenas issued before the full House vote were invalid.
– Bart Jansen
Ken Starr to senators: consider the lack of GOP support
Ken Starr, a member of President Donald Trump’s defense team, suggested Monday that senators should take into account that the House impeached Trump largely along party lines.
The House, he said, has the sole power to impeach a president, but House Democrats should have spent more time on their investigation to persuade Republicans to join them.
Starr, the former independent counsel whose investigation led to the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton, said the House vote to investigate President Richard Nixon was 410 to 4. The vote to investigate Clinton was supported by 31 of his fellow Democrats. But none of Trump’s fellow Republicans joined Democrats in authorizing the inquiry or impeaching him.
“They’ve got the power, but that doesn’t mean anything goes,” Starr told senators. “The question fairly to be asked: why cast my vote to convict and remove the president of the United States, when not a single member of the president’s party – the party of Lincoln – was persuaded at any time in the process.”
– Bart Jansen
White House attorney: acquit Trump, let voters decide
White House counsel Pat Cipollone said the only appropriate result in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump is to acquit him and let voters decide in November whether to keep him in office.
“The key conclusion, the only conclusion, based on the evidence and the articles of impeachment themselves and the Constitution, is that you must vote to acquit the president,” Cipollone said. “At the end of the day, this is an effort to overturn the results of one election and to try to interfere in the coming election that begins today in Iowa.”
On Monday, Iowa is holding its caucuses, the first nominating contest of the 2020 election as Democrats begin to decide whom will challenge Trump in November.
“The only appropriate result here is to acquit the president and leave it to the voters to choose their president,” Cipollone said.
– Bart Jansen
Live Iowa caucuses updates:Follow along for live coverage from across Iowa, and the world
Some senators still quiet about final impeachment vote
While a Republican majority in the Senate indicates President Donald Trump will be acquitted Wednesday, how a number of key senators will vote is still up in the air. Those senators have remained fairly tight-lipped on how they will ultimately vote on both articles of impeachment.
Asked how he would vote on acquittal or conviction, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., told USA TODAY, “we’ve got a vote to make Wednesday.”
Over the weeks, Manchin, whose state supported Trump by a wide margin, has said both sides did a good job of presenting their case but has declined to say how he would vote.
Sen. Doug Jones, another Democrat representing a Trump state, said he is still wanting to hear closing arguments and that he is undecided on the final vote.
“I’m getting there. I really do want to hear the arguments and some conversations from colleagues,” said the Alabama Democrat, who is facing a tough reelection battle.
Another Democrat, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., has remained virtually silent on her thoughts during the weeks-long trial. She has repeatedly declined to discuss her thoughts throughout the proceedings.
Votes from a number of key Republicans also remain to be seen. To convict and remove Trump from office, it would require the backing of at least 67 of the 100 senators.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, told reporters she “would concur” with Sen. Lamar Alexander’s statement that what Trump did was inappropriate but not impeachable. However, she would not comment on how exactly she was voting.
When asked whether any Democrats would vote to acquit, Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., said he thinks it’s possible” a couple” would vote with Republicans “at least on obstruction of Congress.”
“They’ve got a real difficult decision because of how heavy Trump carried those particular states,” he elaborated.
– Savannah Behrmann, Nicholas Wu and Christal Hayes
Demings: Trump ‘weaponized our government’
In House Democrats’ closing arguments in the impeachment trial, Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., focused on President Donald Trump’s alleged pressure on Ukraine to announce investigations into a political rival.
She said the scheme served as the foundation for the Senate trial.
“President Trump weaponized our government and the vast powers entrusted to him by the American people and the Constitution to target his political rival and corrupt our precious elections, subverted our national security and our democracy in the process,” Demings said. “He put his personal interests above those of the country.”
Demings explained that Trump withheld a coveted White House meeting with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and then $391 million in military aid while urging an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden. She said the pressure began before a July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky, and the aid was released Sept. 11 only after Congress began investigating.
Trump’s defense team have said he was justified in seeking the investigation of possible corruption in Ukraine involving Biden and his son.
– Bart Jansen
Rep. Jason Crow: Trump tried to ‘cheat’ and should be removed
House Democrats prosecuting President Donald Trump in the Senate impeachment trial urged in their closing arguments Monday that senators should convict and remove the president from office.
Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., said Trump tried to “cheat” in the 2020 election by inviting a foreign government to interfere in the election.
“I submit to you on behalf of the House of Representatives that your duty demands that you convict President Trump,” Crow said. “If you believe, as we do, and as we have proven, that the president’s efforts to use his official powers to cheat in the 2020 election, jeopardize our national security and are antithetical to our democratic tradition, then you must come to no other conclusion that the president threatens the fairness of the next election and risks putting foreign interference between voters and their ballots.”
The Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump began shortly after 11 a.m. Monday, beginning with closing arguments from Democratic House impeachment managers.
– Bart Jansen
Klobuchar going to Iowa Monday for caucuses
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., was asked whether it was frustrating to be in Washington on the day of the Iowa caucuses. But she said she’d be flying to Iowa at 4 p.m. EST, after the closing arguments in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump are completed about 3 p.m.
“It is what it is. I’ve got a constitutional duty to be here,” Klobuchar said. “I’m a mom; I can do two things at once.”
Live Iowa caucuses updates:Follow along for live coverage from across Iowa, and the world
She will fly directly to New Hampshire at midnight, after the caucus.
“I’m really excited about how we’re doing right now – a few points away from the people you guys talk about,” Klobuchar said with a smile. “I’m punching way above my weight.”
– Bart Jansen and Christal Hayes
Kennedy doesn’t think Democrats have made their case
Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said when he counts his blessings, he counts Sen. Lamar Alexander twice. But Kennedy said he disagrees with the Tennessee Republican that the House Democrats have made their case in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
“I don’t agree that the prosecution has made its case,” Kennedy said.
Lamar made a crucial vote Friday not to allow witnesses at the trial, helping push through a party line vote to reject witnesses and clearing the way for a final vote on acquittal or conviction Wednesday.
‘He shouldn’t have done it’:GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander, who scolded Trump on Ukraine, explains why he backs acquittal
Alexander told USA TODAY Trump’s dealings with Ukraine were “a mistake” and that he “shouldn’t have done it,” but ultimately said the president’s conduct did not meet the standard of removal from office. He said he believed the House proved its case that Trump withheld nearly $400 million in military aid last year to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rivals, notable former Vice President Joe Biden.
Kennedy said he would explain his vote further on the Senate floor either late Monday or on Tuesday.
– Bart Jansen
Closing arguments to begin
House impeachment managers and President Donald Trump’s legal team will make their closing arguments Monday as senators prepare to vote on whether to convict or acquit the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Those two articles of impeachment were approved by the Democratic-controlled House on Dec. 18 after a two-month inquiry into allegations that Trump held up military aid to pressure Ukraine into announcing investigations for his political benefit – including one involving former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democratic rival in the 2020 election.
Trump has insisted he did nothing wrong and was acting to combat corruption. His defense team has said the House failed to prove its case, that the abuse of power charge is too subjective and the obstruction of Congress charge robs the president of his right to claim executive privilege in court. Attorney Alan Dershowitz made the argument, which many legal scholars dispute, that even if the allegations were true, they weren’t impeachable because they did not constitute a crime.
Last week, the Senate voted 51-49 against issuing subpoenas for additional witnesses and documents, which would have delayed the trial’s conclusion.
Each side will have two hours to argue the case a final time before senators take to the floor to deliver speeches explaining how they view the charges. With a 53-47 Republican majority in the Senate and a two-thirds vote needed for conviction, it is almost certain the president will be acquitted in the final vote on Wednesday.
Impeachment and 2020 election:Warren, Sanders, Klobuchar and Bennet will have to juggle Trump impeachment trial and the Iowa caucuses Monday
Schiff: The House proved its case
The lead House impeachment manager, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calf., said Sunday Democrats “proved the corrupt scheme that they charged in the articles of impeachment.”
“That’s pretty remarkable when you now have senators on both sides of the aisle admitting the House made its case and the only question is: ‘Should the president be removed from office because he’s been found guilty of these offenses?'” Schiff said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”
Schiff said even if the Senate votes to acquit, “it’s enormously important that the president was impeached” because “by standing up to this president as we have, by making the case to the American people, by exposing his wrongdoing, we are helping to slow the momentum away from our democratic values.”
“But I’m not letting the senators off the hook. We’re still going to go into the Senate this week and make the case why this president needs to be removed,” he said. “It will be up to the senators to make that final judgment and the senators will be held accountable for it.”
Schiff declined to say if the House would continue to seek testimony from former national security adviser John Bolton, who says in his upcoming book that Trump told him the aid to Ukraine was tied to the investigations Trump desired, according to news media reports. But he said one way or the other, “the truth will come out.”
– William Cummings
‘We want to hear that’:News of John Bolton’s book casts shadow over Trump impeachment trial
Republicans concede Trump should have gone through DOJ
GOP Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said Sunday that while Trump’s acts were not impeachable, he should have gone through the Department of Justice if he had concerns about Biden and his son’s former position on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company.
“I think, generally speaking, going after corruption would be the right thing to do,” Ernst, who declared she will vote to acquit, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“But I think he could have done it through different channels,” she added, referring to Trump’s decision to have his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, handle it. “He should have probably gone to the DOJ. He should have worked through those entities, but he chose to go a different route.”
On NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” Alexander said he believed Trump “called the president of Ukraine and asked him to become involved in investigating Joe Biden.” And he said, “at least in part, he delayed the military and other assistance to Ukraine in order to encourage that investigation.”
“I think he shouldn’t have done it. I think it was wrong,” said Alexander, who plans to vote for acquittal.
“If he was upset about Joe Biden and his son and what they were doing in Ukraine, he should have called the attorney general and told him that, and let the attorney general handle it the way they always handle cases that involve public figures,” said Alexander, who is not seeking re-election in November’s election.
When asked why he thought Trump did not go to the DOJ, Alexander said, “Maybe he didn’t know to do it.”
“I would think he would think twice before he did it again,” he added.
– William Cummings
‘He shouldn’t have done it’:GOP senator who scolded Trump on Ukraine explains why he backs acquittal
Republicans keep Biden in the spotlight
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told Fox News on Sunday that “the day of reckoning is coming for congressional and Senate oversight of Joe Biden.”
“I’m going to bring in State Department officials and ask them, why didn’t you do something about the obvious conflict of interests Joe Biden had?” said Graham, who previously pledged to have his committee investigate the matter but has not yet scheduled any hearings.
“We’re going to get to the bottom of this,” he said. “And I can prove beyond any doubt that Joe Biden’s effort in the Ukraine to root out corruption was undercut, because he let his son sit on the board of the most corrupt company in the Ukraine, and we’re not going to give him a pass on that.”
In an interview with Bloomberg News, Ernst said Democrats had lowered the bar for impeachment to the point that if Biden were to become president there would be voices calling for his removal because of Hunter Biden’s connection to Burisma.
“I think this door of impeachable whatever has been opened,” Ernst told Bloomberg. “We can have a situation where if it should ever be President Biden, that immediately, people, right the day after he would be elected would be saying, ‘Well, we’re going to impeach him.'”
– William Cummings
Contributing: Bart Jansen, Maureen Groppe and Ledyard King