Party leaders rip Republicans who voted to convict Trump

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The seven Republican senators who voted to convict former President Donald Trump of inciting the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection are already feeling the heat back home.

Several state Republican parties moved quickly to discipline or criticize home-state senators for breaking with the 43 other Senate Republicans who voted to acquit Trump in his second impeachment trial.

The Louisiana GOP immediately censured Sen. Bill Cassidy, while state party officials in North Carolina and Pennsylvania issued sharp statements expressing disappointment over the votes cast Saturday by Sens. Richard Burr and Pat Toomey.

The moves are the latest in a series of censures and disciplinary actions doled out to lawmakers deemed to be critical of the former president in the wake of the Capitol riot. Trump, acquitted Saturday of inciting the insurrection, still has broad support among Republican voters and state and local parties have lashed out at elected officials who have been critical of his actions.

In Wyoming, the state party voted to censure Rep. Liz Cheney for her House vote to impeach Trump. The Arizona Republican Party recently censured Republican Gov. Doug Ducey after he opted not to back Trump’s bid to subvert the election results. The Arizona party also censured Cindy McCain, GOP Sen. John McCain’s widow, and former GOP Sen. Jeff Flake after they backed Joe Biden for president.

Sen. Ben Sasse, one of the seven Senate votes against Trump, is also facing potential censure from the Nebraska GOP central committee for his harsh criticism of the president’s efforts to overturn the election results.

Sasse, who was also censured by the committee in 2016 for being insufficiently supportive of Trump, responded last week by releasing a direct-to-camera video denouncing a brand of politics marked by “the weird worship of one dude.”

Yet it was Cassidy who received the harshest rebuke Saturday.

Four days earlier, the state party described itself as “profoundly disappointed” when Cassidy joined five other Republicans to vote that the Senate trial was constitutional. Cassidy defended that vote, arguing Trump’s defense team did a “terrible job.”

The Louisiana GOP’s executive committee said Saturday in a statement that it voted unanimously to censure Cassidy for his vote to convict.

“We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the vote today by Sen. Cassidy to convict former President Trump,” the party added in a tweet. “Fortunately, clearer heads prevailed and President Trump has been acquitted of the impeachment charge filed against him.”

Cassidy defended his vote in a two-sentence statement.

“Our Constitution and our country is more important than any one person. I voted to convict President Trump because he is guilty,” the senator wrote.

The chair of the North Carolina Republican Party called Burr’s vote to convict Trump “shocking and disappointing.” Burr, who is not running for reelection in 2022, was the only one of the seven GOP senators who voted to convict Trump who voted earlier in the week that the trial was unconstitutional.

“North Carolina Republicans sent Senator Burr to the United States Senate to uphold the Constitution and his vote today to convict in a trial that he declared unconstitutional is shocking and disappointing,” Michael Whatley wrote in a one-sentence statement.

Burr said he still thinks the trial was unconstitutional, but since the Senate voted the trial was constitutional, he respected that vote as “established precedent.”

“As I said on January 6th, the President bears responsibility for these tragic events,” Burr said in a statement Saturday explaining his decision. “The President promoted unfounded conspiracy theories to cast doubt on the integrity of a free and fair election because he did not like the results. As Congress met to certify the election results, the President directed his supporters to go to the Capitol to disrupt the lawful proceedings required by the Constitution. When the crowd became violent, the President used his office to first inflame the situation instead of immediately calling for an end to the assault.”

Lawrence Tabas, Pennsylvania GOP chair, was also critical of Toomey’s vote.

“I share the disappointment of many of our grassroots leaders and volunteers over Senator Toomey’s vote today,” Tabas wrote in a statement. Tabas called the trial an “unconstitutional theft of time and energy that did absolutely nothing to unify or help the American people.”

Toomey, who is not running for reelection in 2022, explained his decision in a lengthy Twitter thread, saying that he voted for Trump for president in November because of his administration’s “many accomplishments” but that Trump betrayed the Constitution and his oath of office.

“A lawless attempt to retain power by a president was one of the founders’ greatest fears motivating the inclusion of the impeachment authorities in the U.S. Constitution,” Toomey wrote. “Unfortunately, his behavior after the election betrayed the confidence millions of us placed in him.”

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