Censure vs. Removal

Published: Feb. 5, 2020 at 10:03 AM EST
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Envisioning the Senate voting against removal of President Donald Trump Wednesday, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin offered an alternative that also was offered during the impeachment trial 21 years ago of President Bill Clinton: censure.

"Censure would allow this body to unite across party lines, and, as an equal branch of government, to formally denounce the president's actions, and hold him accountable," Manchin, a Democrat, said on the Senate floor Monday. "His behavior cannot go unchecked by the Senate, and censure would allow a bipartisan statement, condemning his unacceptable behavior in the strongest terms."

The dictionary defines censure as "an expression of disapproval, blame or criticism; an official rebuke".

Manchin's West Virginia counterpart, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Tuesday rejected the idea, saying she doesn't see a groundswell or support for it.

"A censure for behavior, I think, is a weak attempt to make a statement I don't believe needs to be made," Capito, a Republican, said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday. "I oppose his resolution for censure, and I don't think I hear many people talking favorably about it."

Capito notes, with an election season officially under way, it's up to the voters to retain or remove the president.


Senator Shelley Moore Capito can sum up her thoughts on the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in a few words: it's time to get this wrapped up.

"There have been 13 witnesses, tens of thousands of pages of evidence, and, quite frankly, I don't believe this merits removing our president from office."

Capito's Ohio counterpart, Sherrod Brown, couldn't feel more differently. He says he can't believe the senators serving as jurors won't hear from witnesses in the nearly two-week old trial.

"The Senate has done an impeachment trial every ten years or so, and they've never done one without witnesses," Sen. Brown said this week. "If you're in the courthouse in a regular trial, you see witnesses."

And of those reports senators are not giving their undivided attention to the lengthy proceedings, Capito says she can only speak for herself.

"I certainly have listened intently to every piece of detail. I've read all the underlying materials, and talked to my colleagues about this. I feel very prepared to make an informed decision."

The Senate is scheduled to vote on removal of the president from office Wednesday afternoon.

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