Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), thought be a moderate in the increasingly polarized chamber, indicated Sunday that he is open to using the 14th Amendment to expel Republican lawmakers who objected to the certification of Electoral College results.
What did he say?
In an interview with PBS' "Firing Lines," Manchin said that the move should "absolutely" be considered after riotous supporters of President Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, supposedly charged by rhetoric characterizing the 2020 presidential election as fraudulent.
"Absolutely that should be a consideration," Manchin said when asked by PBS reporter Margaret Hoover if the 14th Amendment should be invoked against Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Josh Hawley (Mo.), both whom were among the more vocal of a group of Republican senators who objected to Electoral College certification in battleground states such as Pennsylvania and Arizona.
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment states that no government official holding office "shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability."
Specifically regarding Cruz, Manchin said, "He understands that. Ted's a very bright individual, and I get along fine with Ted, but what he did was totally outside of the realm of our responsibilities or our privileges."
As for Hawley, Manchin recalled trying to persuade him to change his mind later in the evening on Jan. 6 as Congress reconvened to certify Democratic President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory after the siege forced a pause in the session.
"I looked at Josh, and I said, 'Josh, you have a right to do what you're doing, but think of what's happening, what you're seeing on the monitors. Think about, basically, our country,'" he said. "There wasn't much conversation back and forth on that. He listened to me, and I could tell it was weighing on him, and I was hoping that we were able to maybe change his mind to go up there and stop his objections."
The remarks were somewhat shocking coming from Manchin, who is the most conservative Democratic senator. He is expected to be a key swing vote in the chamber now narrowly controlled by the Democrats, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris holding the power to break ties.
Manchin blasted their actions as "calculated" political maneuvers.
"I'm totally convinced it was done because of political reasons. This was all politically motivated. This was calculated," he claimed. "I believe that all my colleagues truly made a decision that was politically best for them and expedient for them. It was not what they believed to be true or false."