While this may challenge the logic that Manchin could support a president he voted to step down, Manchin sees it differently. Trump did everything he could to defeat Manchin 2018 and Manchin forgave him a week later. It may take longer for Trump to forget Manchin’s vote, but the third senator is still hopeful.
"It is no different when he wanted to have lunch the week after my election. And he said, "I knew we couldn't beat you. And I said, "It was not for lack of trying. Boom, it's over, drop it. I did. I ask him to do the same as I do, ”said Manchin. "He tried to withdraw me. "
The episode is vintage Manchin - let everyone guess and find a way to stay in the mix of the 2020 elections, despite the lack of opportunities to strike deals with Republicans and roll out its brand of retrospective bipartisanship. Making peace with Trump would also be helpful if he ran in 2024 for another term representing West Virginia, one of the country's strongest Trump states. Manchin doesn't rule that out either, and said his vote to remove Trump was "no signal at all about my political career."
Manchin also plans to hold a series of town halls to explain his decision to dismiss the Western Virginians.
"I owe it to them." Damn it, I'm going home to do town halls, ”he said.
Republicans and Trump have tried to recruit Manchin to change parties several times, but have always failed. And they have generally been frustrated with Manchin's cooperation record on the law, even though he is the Democrat most receptive to the Trump agenda.
Although he supports most of Trump's candidates, including the two Supreme Court choices, he has opposed the GOP's tax review and the repeal of Obamacare and has now voted to condemn the president in of the dismissal trial.
"Lindsey [Graham] had talked about the fact that we were going to have multiple Democrats. And Joe was one, "said Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). “He sort of walks on this line. There are those in our conference who say that he is always with you, except when you need him. "
Trump recently attacked Manchin as "Munchkin" and Manchin criticized Trump for failing to stand up for defense during the impeachment trial and for his insulting. Manchin said he had not yet contacted the president or the White House to put his lawsuit vote behind him, saying he wanted things to "shiver" a little before making the move.
However, Graham tried to help Manchin reconnect with Trump. The South Carolina Republican said in an interview that he had spoken to Trump about his attacks on Manchin and argued that the West Virginia moderate was one of Trump's best assets for doing anything with support from Democrats.
Graham reminded Trump that he and his colleagues campaigned against Manchin just over a year ago and that the policy was "a business."
Trump "doesn't believe it today. But there will come a time when we will need Joe tomorrow, ”said Graham. “We still have a lot to do here. Prescription drugs and lots of things are going to be on the verge of 60 votes. "
The Democrats were encouraged by Manchin's vote to condemn. He was clearly the most likely Democratic senator to cross party lines in the trial. And he admitted in the interview that he had started voting against the conviction, but found that the burden of proof made this impossible during the trial.
"Joe really struggled," said Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Who had discussed the trial with Manchin and his moderate Democratic colleague Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. "Joe did what he thought was the right thing to do. And that's what Joe Manchin does. "
A few days before the final vote, Manchin stepped onto the podium in the Democratic Caucus hall and told how heartbreaking the deposition vote had become for him. He had never been there before in a closed party meeting, and most senators left with the impression that he would acquit Trump.
However, in the State of the Union speech last week, one day before the impeachment vote, Manchin had made up his mind. And Trump's partisan performance did not help advocate for the president.
"I saw the state of the Union and said," This is not who we are. "There are so many good things we can do better," said Manchin.
For so long, Manchin has faced skepticism in Washington for its triangulation attempts. His vote for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh came just weeks before his election in 2018, and he is widely credited with saving his seat in dark red West Virginia.
Manchin still bristles at the suggestion that he voted for Kavanaugh to save his skin. He said the case was not proven that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford. The records of those responsible for removing the House from Trump, on the other hand, have been proven, said Manchin. And he became more certain by the President’s opposition to hearing new witnesses.
"The witnesses may have gotten me to the point where I have my doubts. I would have a reasonable doubt. Maybe, ”said Manchin. "I had no doubt when everything [came] the way it appeared. "
Manchin also appreciates efforts to designate him as someone who blindly follows him with Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) Last week noticed that his vote against Trump had shown that Schumer had "pulled the rope a little tight" on him.
Manchin texted Capito a few minutes after his television success on Fox News: "I think you know me better than that. Capito declined to comment on his colleague's relationship with Trump: "I just don't want to get in the middle of this." I really don't have one. "
However, if the Liberals are looking for Manchin to snatch them now every week, they will be disappointed. Manchin has already approved Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) and is unlikely to do much, at all, against Capito or any other outgoing Republican on the ballot in November.
And he said he still intends to support many of Trump's conservative judges, provided they are experienced and found qualified by the American Bar Association.
"Do you think the Democratic caucus was satisfied with my votes? Asked Manchin. "I vote 56% of the time with Republicans."
Yet even if he seeks to please Trump, he is still opposed to many of the President's policies. Manchin is angry at the Trump-backed lawsuit that would dump the Affordable Care Act and is livid with the president's budget and what he would do in West Virginia.
In addition, he said he needed to do a full analysis to find out if his condition was really better than three years ago and if Trump's rhetoric matches his results in his condition. In the end, it could end up being neutral in 2020, particularly depending on who the Democrats appoint. But he always keeps an eye on Trump.
"I hope it changes," said Manchin. "I am looking for that person who has heart, soul and compassion. "