Report: Democrat senators mull acquittal as Trump team wraps up impeachment defense

After three days of arguments by President Donald Trump’s legal team in the Senate’s ongoing impeachment trial, a handful of Democrat lawmakers seem to be considering a vote to acquit.

Politico reported Wednesday that the likes of Democrat Sens. Joe Manchin (WV) and Doug Jones (AL) remain “undecided on whether to vote to remove the president from office and are ‘struggling’ over where to land.”

The report came just hours after the Los Angeles Times asserted that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, made similar remarks; however, the congresswoman has since insisted that she was “misunderstood,” according to MSN.

To acquit or not to acquit

Speaking with Politico on Tuesday, Sen. Manchin said he won’t make a final decision on whether to convict or acquit the president until his trial in the Senate is complete. “I know it’s hard to believe that. But I really am [undecided],” Manchin told the outlet. “I have not made a final decision. Every day, I hear something, I think ‘this is compelling, that’s compelling.’”

That sentiment was echoed by Jones, who admitted to Politico in an interview that he, too, hasn’t yet made up his mind. “I don’t think I’ve totally decided. I certainly have [been] leaning one way or the other. That needle moves,” he said. “I am leaning in certain ways but I want to hear, I truly, honestly, want to hear the entire trial.”

Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat senator from Arizona, was also reported to be on the fence about Trump’s guilt, but she “has made no comments since the trial began,” Politico noted. Meanwhile, other Democrats have been much more vocal about their opinions — perhaps to their own detriment.

Feinstein’s flip-flop

A shocking report from the Los Angeles Times alleged Tuesday that Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein said it should be the American people who get to decide Trump’s fate, not Congress.

“Nine months left to go, the people should judge. We are a republic, we are based on the will of the people — the people should judge,” the senator reportedly told the Times. “That was my view and it still is my view.”

Asked directly if she would vote to acquit the president, Feinstein said the trial is “not finished,” according to MSN. But in a tweet Tuesday evening, the senator backtracked, writing:

The LA Times misunderstood what I said today. Before the trial I said I’d keep an open mind. Now that both sides made their cases, it’s clear the president’s actions were wrong. He withheld vital foreign assistance for personal political gain. That can’t be allowed to stand.

The burning question

As Democrat senators go back and forth on whether to impeach Trump, the big question remaining in Washington is whether additional witnesses will be called in the Senate’s trial. For his part, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been clear that he wants a quick trial for Trump with few if any witnesses, but the decision will ultimately be left up to a vote, per rules established at the beginning of the trial.

Such a vote will come after both Trump’s team and the House’s impeachment managers have had time to answer written questions from the senators. If witnesses are called, the trial could take weeks or even months to come to a close.

Republicans Mitt Romney (UT) and Susan Collins (ME) have both said publicly that they would like to hear from additional witnesses, but the Democrats would need at least two more Republicans to defect to accomplish their goal.

Still, the Dems seem to be putting up a united front on this issue, at least. Sen. Manchin told Fox News on Tuesday that hearing additional testimony could provide a fuller picture of what really happened.

“I’m a proud West Virginian and I’m a proud American,” the senator said. “It doesn’t matter whether you are Democrat or Republican — do the right thing and make sure you have the evidence and all the witnesses that can help you make an important decision.”

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