Joe Manchin speaks in an unique interview about Biden, Capitol riots and Trump

WASHINGTON – When Senator Joe Manchin learned that a crowd of pro-Trump protesters threatened to disrupt the Capitol Electoral College count in Congress on Jan. 6, the 73-year-old, 6-foot-3-former was Soccer star said he was not ready to retire.

“My intention was to stay and fight: ‘Let them in. Let’s go.’ But I didn’t know what was going on, “said the West Virginia Democrat USA TODAY in an exclusive interview. “They had a lot of people singing. I wasn’t thinking anything about it. But within 10 or 15 minutes a SWAT team comes in with all their gear and says, ‘You’re out of here. Just go now. Don don’t even listen on. “

Manchin was a rare Democrat who was on friendly terms with former President Donald Trump. At one point there were reports that the president wanted to appoint him as his secretary of energy (which would have given the Republican governor of West Virginia an opportunity to occupy Manchin’s Senate seat). but the Senator withdrew his name from consideration.

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President Donald Trump speaks with Senator Joe Manchin after a joint congressional session on February 28, 2017.Win McNamee / Getty Images

Some would piss Trump and vote twice to indict the president, including in February, for leading the January 6 mob to attack Congress. Trump was acquitted both times.

The West Virginia Senator TODAY told the US he still couldn’t believe the events of that day as Congress confirmed Joe Biden’s presidential victory. Although he had already established at the time of the uprising that the former president was a divisive force, Manchin said the events of January 6 still baffled him.

Manchin sat down with the U.S. TODAY in his Capitol Hill office to discuss a variety of topics, including Trump’s rhetoric that contributed to the January 6 attack, his ability to push back part of Biden’s progressive agenda, and his insistence on it that the Senate filibuster remains despite all pressure from the Democrats to get rid of him so that every bill can be passed with 51 votes instead of 60.

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On Trump and January 6th:

Manchin: “I’ve heard the Trump rhetoric forever. I got on well with Donald Trump. We had a good relationship. He called me all the time. We talked back and forth,” he said.

But “he liked conflict and he liked this turmoil. And that’s fine when you’re in business. But it doesn’t work for the public service. The whole principle of public service is to bring people together to reach consensus. And Donald Trump is not made that way. When I got to that conclusion, I think that’s just a lot of rhetoric. I didn’t know there was this kind of fever and pent-up hatred in people that he allowed them to to unleash. “

Whether Biden goes too far to the left:

Manchin: “It’s a huge responsibility he has and he’s trying to bring everyone together. I know he wants it. I know it’s in his DNA. And I’d love to see that. The First Law (COVID-19 -Relief), I knew when he came out with it that he had to do something because we had COVID. We had people who lost their jobs. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. My better judgment was that we did something do what we can agree on – across party lines. But he had a bigger mission and I got that. He emerges as president. He wants to show his strength. “

Senator Joe Manchin, DW.V., and Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, speak as they arrive at the U.S. Capitol to vote on Tuesday.

Senator Joe Manchin, DW.V., and Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, speak as they arrive at the U.S. Capitol to vote on Tuesday.Al Drago, Getty Images

Non-partisanship:

Manchin: “I talk to everyone. I have dinner with everyone. If I find a way forward we will find it. You can’t find it if you don’t know people and if you really want to be a friend and work on an honest one Way, no gotcha moment.

Why Congress Shouldn't Rush the Infrastructure Bill:

Manchin: “Now we’re in a situation where we don’t have the urgency (as opposed to COVID-19 relief), this time sensitivity, that ‘we have to do this. We have to do the infrastructure.’ The infrastructure should have been completed 10 or 20 years ago. Right now it’s not like a do-or-die. We can fix it, we should fix it, but it should be infrastructure based. “

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On the question of whether Biden is asking too much with his $ 2.25 trillion bill for infrastructure and jobs:

Manchin: “There’s a lot going into it and that would be fine as single-mindedness. But it could be more than what we can do and get enough votes to do it. Now they (Democrats) just want to get rid of the rules and do what you want to do. But when you do, just think about the swings every four years when things change – or every two years. “

Senator Joe Manchin leaves the U.S. Capitol following an impeachment session of President Donald Trump in the U.S. Capitol on January 31, 2020.

Senator Joe Manchin leaves the U.S. Capitol following an impeachment session of President Donald Trump in the U.S. Capitol on January 31, 2020.Zach Gibson / Getty Images

How the January 6 riots changed him:

Manchin: “Politically more than anything. How fragile we are. How close we have come to losing our country.”

How the Capitol Riots affected his support for the Filibuster:

Manchin: “It gave me more determination (to fight for it). If you want to lose it completely and be a government, we weren’t formed to try to make a more perfect union – not perfect, but more perfect – that’s not this Way of doing it. “

About Democrats trying to get the Infrastructure Bill passed using a legislative tactic that doesn't require GOP votes:

Manchin: “It wasn’t what it was supposed to be. Why do you (former Democratic Senator from West Virginia) think Robert Byrd introduced the Byrd Rule? To try to keep it in line. It’s not for that. And if they want get exceptions so they can use it as many times as they want to lead this congress. Can you imagine when our Republican friends will take control? And it will happen. The circle is full again. “

Released 11:20 UTC May. 2, 2021
Updated May 12:12 UTC. 2, 2021

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