CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin has fired back at President Donald Trump’s criticism of the West Virginia Democrat for voting guilty on two articles of impeachment. Manchin says he — not Trump — has fought tirelessly for his constituents.
Manchin issued the response Saturday night on Twitter, a day after Trump tweeted that he was “very surprised & disappointed” with Manchin’s votes and claimed no president has done more for the state.
Trump carried West Virginia by a whopping 42 percentage points in 2016.
Manchin said that “no Democrat has worked harder in a bipartisan way in the hopes that you would succeed.” He added that West Virginia residents “know exactly” who has worked day and night for the last five years to secure their health care and pensions, and “it wasn’t you.”
Trump asserted in a subsequent tweet Friday that Manchin was “just a puppet” for the Democratic leaders in the House and Senate.
“That’s all he is!” Trump tweeted.
Trump was acquitted by the Senate on Wednesday on charges that he abused his office after senators narrowly rejected Democratic demands to summon witnesses for the impeachment trial.
In announcing his decision on the impeachment vote Wednesday, Manchin said the evidence presented by House managers clearly supported the charges brought against the president.
“I’ve read the transcripts thoroughly & listened to the witnesses under oath,” Manchin said Saturday on Twitter. “Where I come from a person accused defends themselves with witnesses and evidence.”
Trump continued his criticism of Manchin on Sunday, tweeting that “they are really mad at Senator Joe Munchkin in West Virginia. He couldn’t understand the Transcripts.”
Manchin is serving his second term as a U.S. senator and was the state’s governor from 2005 to 2010.
Manchin announced in September that he would not run for governor again, ending speculation on whether the moderate Democrat would challenge Jim Justice, a Trump-backed incumbent who ran as a Democrat but changed parties less than a year after taking office.
Manchin and Trump appeared to have a warmer relationship than the president has with most Democratic lawmakers. Trump invited him to the White House in August when the president presented former basketball player Bob Cousy with the Medal of Freedom. A month later, Manchin was again at the White House when Trump presented the Medal of Freedom to another former basketball great, West Virginia native Jerry West.
Republicans have gained the upper hand in West Virginia in recent decades. But the moderate Manchin won a second full term to the Senate in the 2018 elections in a tight race against a Trump-backed challenger.
U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican who voted against impeachment, told Fox News on Thursday that people in the state are “rather mystified” by Manchin’s vote.
“I just feel that probably Sen. Schumer just pulled the noose a little tight and said, ‘Come on, everybody, we’re going to jump off this cliff together,’ and back here, West Virginians, they’re very surprised,” she said.