In Brief

Why some Democrats might acquit Trump

Senators struggling to retain seats in ‘red states’ face tricky balancing act

At least three Democrat senators are considering voting to clear Donald Trump of the charges against the US president at his impeachment trial.

Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Doug Jones of Alabama “have left open the possibility that they might acquit Trump on either of the two charges: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress”, CNN reports.

And Kyrsten Sinema, a new senator from Arizona, has refused to reveal which way she might land.

The trio of moderates face “challenging calculations” to retain their seats, hailing from states that voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election while being backed by base voters who believe the president should be removed from office over his treatment of Ukraine, says the US news network.

As Politico points out, the Democrat senators could not only give Trump “the bipartisan acquittal he’s eagerly seeking” but also “shape the broader political dynamic” heading into the 2020 presidential election. 

Their decisions are likely to “have major ramifications for each senator’s legacy and political prospects”, the news site adds. 

Manchin raised eyebrows when he praised Trump’s legal team after the first two days of defence arguments, saying they did a “good job” of making their case and were “making me think about things”.

The three senators might consider splitting their votes - voting to convict Trump on abuse of power but acquitting him on obstruction of Congress.

Jones hinted this week that he might do just that, saying that he was more comfortable with the first article of impeachment than the second.

“I’m anxious to hear how the House managers are going to respond to some of the issues that were raised by the president’s lawyers when it comes to Article II,” he said this week.

The “unlikely Democratic senator from the Deep South” has “no good options”, with Republicans sure to “batter him” if he votes to convict the president while Democrats “will rebel” if he votes to acquit, according to Politico.

On the other side of the fence, speculation is growing that some Republicans may break ranks and vote to convict Trump. GOP senators including Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins are remaining secretive about their intentions.

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