Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., said Sunday that those who incited the Capitol riot, including President Donald Trump, should “absolutely” be investigated by prosecutors and that a “judicial path” would be better than the Senate undergoing a time-consuming impeachment trial.
In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Manchin, a moderate, echoed his fellow Democrats that the president should be impeached but implied that a Senate trial would slow the chamber’s ability to confirm members of President-elect Joe Biden’s administration. The Senate could not begin an impeachment trial before Inauguration Day, Manchin noted.
“We’re a country of the rule of law. That’s who we are. That’s our bedrock, and that means no person’s above the law,” he said when asked about whether he supported the prosecution of Trump or anyone else who incited the riot. “If people have died, and we know they have, all the damage that was done, an insurrection on our own Capitol, someone has to be held accountable for that.”
The Justice Department backed off the prospect of pursuing charges against the president after Michael Sherwin, the U.S. attorney in Washington, at first refused to rule out the possibility of investigating him.
Manchin recalled being under lockdown with other senators during the Capitol siege and pleading with Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., to reconsider challenging the Electoral College votes. Hawley refused and objected to Pennsylvania’s slate of electors later that evening, forcing both chambers into a two-hour debate.
Manchin said he believed the Senate could not expel members like Hawley who challenged the election results, saying, “they stayed within the confines of what the rules and laws allow them to do.” Instead, he predicted, the public would not reelect those senators who objected and have “blood on their conscience.”