GOP lawmakers in big trouble with their own party over disloyalty to Trump

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State and local Republican parties are censuring members of Congress who voted to impeach or convict Donald Trump.

North Carolina Republicans on Monday are expected to censure Sen. Richard Burr for voting to convict Donald Trump in his impeachment trial for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the Charlotte Observer reported on Sunday.

"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," North Carolina GOP Chair Michael Whatley said in a statement.

Burr would be the latest of a number of Republicans to be censured for voting to punish Trump for the insurrection at the Capitol by his supporters, which left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) was censured by the Louisiana Republican Party on Saturday shortly after a majority of senators voted to convict Trump. Trump was acquitted, as the vote to convict fell short of the two-thirds' majority needed. Seven Republicans joined all 50 Democratic senators in voting to convict.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Utah Republicans are circulating a petition calling for the censure of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), who also voted to convict Trump. The petition says Romney deserves censure for "embarrassing the state of Utah" and "appears to be an agent for the Establishment Deep State" — a conspiracy theory term Trump and Republicans often use to describe anyone in government who does not do exactly what Trump wants.

State and local parties across the country have voted to censure seven of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump on one count of inciting insurrection: Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Peter Meijer of Michigan, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Dan Newhouse of Washington, Tom Rice of South Carolina, and Fred Upton of Michigan.

Burr said in a statement that after listening to the House impeachment managers' case, it was "clear" that Trump was guilty:

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.

 

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By what he did and by what he did not do, President Trump violated his oath of office to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Cassidy was more succinct: "Our Constitution and our country is more important than any one person. I voted to convict President Trump because he is guilty."

Some Republicans who voted to acquit Trump said he was guilty, but used process arguments to explain their votes to let Trump off the hook.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called Trump's actions a "disgraceful dereliction of duty," but said that because Trump was no longer in office, the impeachment trial was unconstitutional.

The GOP vote not to convict Trump, despite polling showing 58% of the country believes he should have been convicted, illustrates lawmakers' awareness of the hold that Trump still has over the GOP base.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was mad that McConnell even dared to criticize Trump, telling Fox News on Sunday that it will be bad for Republicans in the 2022 midterm elections.

"He got a load off his chest, obviously, but unfortunately he put a load on the back of Republicans," Graham said. "That speech you will see in 2022 campaigns."

A recent Gallup poll found 60% of Americans who vote Republican want Trump to continue to lead the party.

Still, a sizable 38% of Republicans want the party to have a new leader, according to the Gallup survey, showing that Trump's influence could lead to major rifts within the party and put in question its efforts to win back the House and Senate majorities it lost during his four years in office.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.