With acquittal expected, Democrat calls for Trump censure

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin says there is bipartisan support to censure President Donald Trump (AFP Photo/Mandel NGAN)

Washington (AFP) - A Democratic senator called Monday for the censure of Donald Trump over the Ukraine scandal, saying the US president should be formally chastised even if he is acquitted in his impeachment trial.

West Virginia's Joe Manchin said that although the evidence was strong that Trump abused his power to solicit political support from Ukraine, the Republican-dominated Senate was not going to convict him when it votes on Wednesday.

"I see no path to the 67 votes required to impeach President Trump and haven't since this trial started," Manchin said on the Senate floor, referring to the supermajority required for conviction in the 100-member Senate.

"I do believe a bipartisan majority of this body would vote to censure President Trump for his actions in this matter," he said.

Censure would allow senators to "unite across party lines, and as an equal branch of this government" in denouncing Trump's "unacceptable behavior," Manchin argued.

The senator's proposal could dull Trump's expected claim of victory on Wednesday when the Senate, where Republicans have a 53-47 majority, is expected to vote along party lines to acquit him.

Only one president in history has been censured, Andrew Jackson in 1834, over his opposition to an early version of a US central bank.

It was not clear when Manchin's censure bill would be submitted and considered.

Besides Democrats, it could attract the support of several Republicans who have condemned Trump's behavior but said it did not merit his removal from office.

Manchin has been one of a handful of Democrats, all representing heavily Republican states, who have wobbled on whether to convict and risk the wrath of their voters.

"I am truly struggling with this decision and will come to a conclusion reluctantly," he said, "as voting whether or not to remove a sitting president is the most consequential decision that I or any US senator will face."