Whenever an impeachment trial takes place, it's the House's job to gather evidence, obtain documents and hear witnesses before presenting the case to the Senate. The Senate's job is to hear the case and be impartial. They're essentially the jurors and decide whether or not the president is removed from office.
Although the Senate is supposed to be impartial and open, the votes thus far have come down on party lines. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), a Blue Dog Democrat, is actually following the impartiality factor.
Before Saturday's opening statements from the president's defense team, Manchin said he took his "oath to the Constitution to protect and defend and [his] oath of impartiality."
Manchin on President's legal team presenting today at trial vs House managers arguments: "I'm sure there's things that will be said today that will upset Democrats. This is the tough situation that we're in. It's the most serious thing that I've ever done as an elected official." pic.twitter.com/CN2H7bw9gK— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) January 25, 2020
Manchin: "I take my oath extremely seriously, my oath to the Constitution to protect and defend and my oath of impartiality. I want to see and hear from the defense counsel today and we'll see where we go from there."— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) January 25, 2020
After Saturday's hearing, Manchin gave President Trump's team kudos for making him think about the House's case and their lack of witnesses.
Sen. Joe Manchin told me Trump’s team did a “good job” and are “making me think about things.” He added: “One thing that stuck in my mind is they said there isn’t a witness they have had so far that had direct contact with the president. I’d love to hear from Mulvaney and Bolton”— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 25, 2020
Asked if he’s thinking about acquittal, Manchin said: “I’ll be very impartial til the end.”— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 25, 2020
Lefties believe Manchin made the point that witnesses should be called.
I think we can all agree with Manchin that Trump’s lawyers are absolutely right to suggest we need direct witnesses. ?? https://t.co/bRzpmwwuLE— Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) January 25, 2020
Some even believe he will side with Republicans.
Joe Manchin is totally going to fold on Democrats again and side with Trump. His whole act is about as convincing as Susan Collins. https://t.co/N5zD3NxTq6— Adam Best (@adamcbest) January 25, 2020
Watch for Manchin being a yes on witnesses and no on removal. https://t.co/dsRvJ95iOQ— Ross Garber (@rossgarber) January 25, 2020
The sad part is we're so politically divided that being impartial is looked at as a bad thing when it's something every senator should strive for, especially when listening to an impeachment trial.