Sen. Joe Manchin said he was prepared to hold his ground and fight when a crowd of Trump supporters converged on the US Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress voted to certify the 2020 election.
”My intention was to stay and fight: ‘Let ‘em in. Let’s go at it.’ But I didn’t know what was going on,” Manchin (D-W.Va.) told USA Today in an interview published Monday.
“You had a lot of people chanting. I didn’t think anything of that. But within 10 or 15 minutes, a SWAT team comes in with all of their gear and says ‘You guys are out of here. Just go now. Don’t even stop,’” the 6-foot-3 former football standout said.
Manchin, a moderate Democrat from the state former President Donald Trump won by nearly 40 points in the 2020 election, has found himself at a position of influence in the 50-50 divided Senate, armed with a vote that could advance or doom Democratic initiatives.
Two of those issues are statehood for Washington, DC, and getting rid of the filibuster that would allow Democrats to pass legislation with 51 votes instead of 60 — both measures he opposes.
Manchin said there is “no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster.”
He said the Capitol riots only reinforced in him the need to maintain the filibuster.
“It gave me more determination (to fight for it). If you want to lose it completely and you want to be a government that was not how we were formed to try to form a more perfect union – not perfect, but more perfect – this is not the way to do it,” he said.
Manchin, who voted to convict Trump twice in Senate impeachment trials, said they had a relationship.
“I heard the Trump rhetoric forever. I got along well with Donald Trump. We had a good rapport. He called me all the time. We talked back and forth,” Manchin said.
But he said the relationship became frayed.
“He liked conflicts and he liked that turmoil. And that’s fine if you’re in business. But for public service, it doesn’t work. The whole principle of public service is to bring people together to get a consensus. And Donald Trump’s not made that way. So when I started coming to that conclusion, I’m thinking that’s just a lot of rhetoric,” he said.
“I didn’t know there was that type of fever and pent-up hatred in people he allowed them to unleash.”
Manchin has promoted bipartisanship in the Senate rather than having one party in control forcing its agenda on the minority.
”I talk to everybody. I have dinner with everybody. If I can find a pathway forward, we’re going to find it. You can’t find it unless you know people and unless you truly want to be a friend and want to work in an honest way, not a gotcha moment,” he said in the interview.