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Democratic congressional leaders shut down talk of censuring Trump

Posted February 4, 2020 6:48 p.m. EST

— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer both made clear Tuesday that censuring President Donald Trump, as some prominent Democrats have suggested, is not on the table.

"We have impeached the President," Pelosi, a California Democrat, said to a group of reporters in advance of the President's State of the Union address. "Our house has spoken."

As she started to make the case that Republican senators -- led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky -- wouldn't go for the option anyway, Schumer finished the thought.

"Mitch McConnell -- we cannot bring it up in the Senate trial," the New York Democrat said. "He has the ability to bring it up afterwards. He won't. But for most of us, and just about all of us, he should be convicted and we don't want a halfway measure."

Schumer continued, "I think the reason McConnell doesn't want to bring it on the floor is our Republican colleagues -- so many of them -- are so afraid of even saying he was wrong that they don't want to have a vote on it."

The response to the censure proposal has been mostly negative -- and from both parties.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a moderate who voted to add witnesses in the impeachment trial, threw cold water on moving forward on censure, saying the House should have started with that.

"I considered censure. If the House had started with a censure resolution, instead of leaping to impeachment and shortcutting the process and skipping over judicial adjudication, it's something I would have looked at," Collins said. "At this point, the fact is the President has been impeached -- and only (the) third president to actually be impeached in history -- both Republican senators such as myself and Democratic senators have criticized his conduct, strikes me as a reprimand."

"Zero," said Republican Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana when asked if there was any appetite for the proposal.

The comments from the top Democrats in Congress follow a proposal from Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate from West Virginia, who floated the idea of censuring Trump for his behavior outlined in the articles of impeachment, the argument being a bipartisan group of senators would be willing to vote for censuring Trump as opposed to removing him from office.

"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 said in a speech from the Senate floor Monday, where he unveiled his resolution text to censure Trump.

Manchin acknowledged to reporters earlier Tuesday that his censure resolution faces slim chances because he would need an agreement from McConnell to get a floor vote, something that likely won't happen.

"That's a shame," he said, adding that he would still "see what the mood is after Wednesday."

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