A trio of swing-state senators got a lot of love from their fellow Democrats after voting “guilty” on two articles of impeachment against President Trump Wednesday, as their colleagues hailed them for political courage.
Immediately after their historic votes, Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.; Doug Jones, D-Ala., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., were rushed by fellow Democrat lawmakers who gave them hugs, pats on the back and handshakes.
As the three undecided Democrats before Wednesday’s vote, and under tremendous pressure from all sides, their decision to stick with their party led to an outpouring of support.
“We knew that they were really struggling. They are in the toughest states politically and it took real courage,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. “People are very sensitive to the political risks of standing up in doing what you believe is right against a very vindictive president.”
Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va.; Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii; Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Kirsten Gillbrand, D-N.Y., were among the Democrats who showed visible affection to the vulnerable senators inside the Senate chamber after their fateful votes.
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., gave Jones and Manchin tight hugs. Then Jones and Manchin, both representing Trump stronghold states, exchanged an embrace. And Manchin and Sinema also shared a big hug on the Senate floor.
“I didn’t know how he was going to vote,” Gillibrand said afterward of her show of affection for Manchin. “I had spoken to him a few times in the cloakroom. I was very proud of his decision. And he did what he thought was the right thing to do."
Even Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, came over from the House to watch and headed for Manchin after the vote on the Senate floor to shake his hand.
Jones was the first to announce his guilty vote earlier Wednesday, followed by Sinema and Manchin, who put out a statement just minutes before the impeachment vote began. Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he didn’t know of Manchin’s decision until “10 minutes before the vote."
“Joe Manchin does the right thing," Schumer said.
Republicans had long-predicted a bipartisan acquittal, but the last-minute decision by the three robbed Trump of that talking point. With Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, defecting from his party and voting for guilt on one article of impeachment, it was Democrats who celebrated bipartisanship.
The vote “created a bipartisan impeachment that can never be erased from history,” Schumer said.
Democrats touted the party unity and praised the House impeachment managers for making a convincing case.
“There was a bipartisan vote -- even though it wasn’t two thirds -- that found President Trump guilty,” Stabenow said. “Every single Democrat plus one Republican.”
On Monday, Manchin took to the Senate floor to push for a lighter measure of censure against Trump and he was considered by Republicans one of their best bets for a defection.
For his part, Manchin said he prayed on the decision.
“This was the most difficult decision I've ever had to make,” Manchin told reporters afterward.
“… This is not a political vote whatsoever. It’s not whether I like the president. I've always had a good relationship [with Trump], but I love my country, and I have an obligation, responsibilities and my duties to my country. And if I can't explain that then shame on me," he said.
Fox News' Jason Donner contributed to this report.