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At least two Senate Democrats are already signaling they could vote for President Donald Trump’s acquittal just hours into the president’s legal team began their defense, The Hill reported.
After Saturday’s trial session — which ended early to allow Democratic senators to hit the campaign trail — Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Trump’s legal team did such a “good job” that their arguments are “making me think about things.”
“One thing that stuck in my mind is they said there isn’t a witness they have had so far that had direct contact with the president. I’d love to hear from Mulvaney and Bolton,” Manchin told a CNN reporter. “I’ll be very impartial til the end.”
Earlier in the day, Manchin, one of the most moderate Senate Democrats, reiterated his commitment to impartiality.
“I take my oath extremely seriously, my oath to the Constitution to protect and defend and my oath of impartiality. I want to see and hear from the defense counsel today and we’ll see where we go from there,” he said.
According to The Hill, moderate Democrat Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) has also signaled willingness to remain impartial and consider voting to acquit Trump.
“I’m hoping to hear the facts and the rebuttal from the president. So I think that’s only appropriate,” Jones said Saturday.
If any Democratic senators are likely to jump ranks and vote against Trump’s conviction, Manchin and Jones are the two most likely candidates. As The Hill noted, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) could also be a possible Democratic defector.
Still, Trump’s acquittal is almost certain. Democrats need a total of 67 votes to convict Trump and remove him from office, meaning they need 20 Republicans to jump ship — a practical impossibility.
Republicans kicked off their defense of Trump on Saturday in the Senate with deputy White House counsel Michael Purpura laying out the following six points that are going to be the outline of Trump’s defense:
- “The transcript shows that the president did not condition either security assistance or a meeting on anything. The paused security assistance funds aren’t even mentioned on the call.”
- “President Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said that there was no quid pro quo and no pressure on them to review anything.”
- “President Zelensky and high-ranking Ukrainian officials did not even know, did not even know, the security assistance was paused until the end of August, over a month after the July 25 call.”
- “Not a single witness testified that the President himself said that there was any connection between any investigations and security assistance, a presidential meeting, or anything else.”
- “The security assistance flowed on September 11 and a presidential meeting took place on September 25 without the Ukrainian government announcing any investigations.”
- “The Democrats blind drive to impeach the president does not and cannot change the fact, as attested to by the Democrats own witnesses, that President Trump has been a better friend and stronger supporter of Ukraine than his predecessor.”
“Those are the facts,” Purpura said. “Each one of these six facts standing alone is enough to sink the Democrats’ case. Combined they establish what we’ve known since the beginning, the president did absolutely nothing wrong.”