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Manchin: Swift removal of Trump unlikely

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said it seemed unlikely that President Donald Trump can be quickly removed from office. Yet he isn’t ruling out action against Republican senators who led the effort to thwart President-elect Joe Biden’s win because he says that helped encourage pro-Trump rioters to attack the U.S. Capitol.

Manchin said in an interview that he’s heard Vice President Mike Pence is not likely to use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. He also says he’s seen no evidence of enough Senate GOP support to oust Trump if the House impeaches him.

Manchin said that while he favors removing Trump as soon as possible, “We don’t need any more theater.” He said lawmakers should defer to President-elect Joe Biden’s need for the Senate to focus on confirming his Cabinet.

Manchin also turned his focus toward GOP Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas. He said both knew they had no chance of persuading Congress to nullify Biden’s electoral votes this week, and that their efforts “facilitated” rioters who swarmed the Capitol. He also said other Republicans who voted with them should also be held responsible.

One option for punishing Hawley and Cruz, Manchin offered, would be to hold them “in contempt, basically, for insurrection and high crimes.”

Manchin stopped short of saying Hawley and Cruz should be expelled from the Senate. But he said action should be taken to prevent “anyone with blind political ambition to supersede the protection and defense of our country.”

Manchin also weighed in Friday on Biden’s proposed COVID relief package, which would include $2,000 relief checks. In an interview with the Washington Post, Manchin did not seem enthused about the overall price tag of those checks.

“I don’t know where in the hell $2,000 came from,” Manchin said. “I swear to God I don’t. That’s another $400 billion dollars.”

Manchin initially seemed to suggest in an interview with the Post that he was “absolutely” opposed to a new round of checks. He clarified in a follow-up interview that he could potentially support more checks if those payments were focused on those in the most dire need of them.

Manchin also said that the federal government’s first priority must be getting people vaccinated, not sending out checks.

“If they can direct money and they say, ‘This will help stimulate the economy,’ hell yeah I’m for it,” Manchin told the Post. “But basically right now, you better get them vaccinated.”

(Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.)

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