WASHINGTON — Several members of Congress have faced criticism and even formal censures from their state and county Republican parties because they voted to support the impeachment of former President Donald Trump, including Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Penn.
One Republican official in Pennsylvania said Toomey was not sent to Congress “to do the right thing.” Washington County Republican Chair Dave Ball ripped on Toomey for justifying his vote to convict Trump on the charge of inciting the violent Jan. 6 riot at the United States Capitol.
“We did not send him there to vote his conscience. We did not send him there to do the right thing or whatever he said he was doing. We sent him there to represent us, and we feel very strongly that he did not represent us,” Ball said in an interview with CBS Pittsburgh’s KDKA-TV.
York County, Pennsylvania, Republicans voted to censure Toomey over the weekend, arguing that he is out of touch with the “core beliefs of the people of Pennsylvania,” and he also faces possible censure from the state’s Republican Party, which is planning a meeting to discuss censure, The Associated Press reported.
The senator, who does not plan to run for re-election in 2022, said of his decision to convict: “As a result of President Trump’s actions, for the first time in American history, the transfer of presidential power was not peaceful. … I was one of the 74 million Americans who voted for President Trump, in part because of the many accomplishments of his administration. Unfortunately, his behavior after the election betrayed the confidence millions of us placed in him.”
The Senate acquitted Trump over the weekend. All 50 Democrats and independents voted to convict, but only seven Republican senators broke with their party, not enough to reach the necessary threshold of 67 senators. The trial came after 10 House Republicans voted to impeach Trump in January, siding with House Democrats.
Trump was charged with one article of incitement, with the House impeachment managers arguing that his rally speech prior to the riot and months of pushing baseless election fraud claims egged on his supporters to ultimately attack the Capitol. Trump’s defense team said he was exercising his right to political speech and that the impeachment trial was unconstitutional because it took place after Trump had left office, despite the House initiating the process when he was still president.
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Here are some of the other Republicans who have faced censure and rebuke for their support of impeachment:
Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.
Burr’s vote to convict Trump came as one of the most surprising because he had not previously indicated he would convict. Burr, who is also not seeking re-election in 2022, drew gasps and glances from around the chamber when he voiced his “guilty” vote on the article of incitement of insurrection.
The North Carolina Republican Party Central Committee voted unanimously to censure Burr over his vote on Monday, arguing the impeachment was unconstitutional.
“Tonight, the North Carolina Republican Party Central Committee voted unanimously to censure Senator Richard Burr for his vote to convict former President Trump in the impeachment trial which he declared to be unconstitutional,” the party said in a statement.
“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,” Burr said in a statement after voting to convict.
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Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah
Romney’s vote to convict Trump was not a surprise, because he joined Democrats in an earlier vote to affirm that the trial was constitutional to pursue, and because he had previously voted for Trump’s conviction in an impeachment trial.
The former Republican presidential nominee was the only Republican to vote to convict Trump of one article of impeachment over his dealings with Ukraine in January 2020.
While some Republicans have circulated a petition calling for the state GOP to censure Romney, Utah Republican leaders have signaled they are accepting of Romney’s vote. CNN reported that the Utah GOP released a statement acknowledging that its two senators voted differently, and calling it a “diversity of thought.” Utah Sen. Mike Lee voted to acquit Trump.
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Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.
The Louisiana Republican Party had already criticized Cassidy’s vote supporting the constitutionality of the impeachment trial before it began, and would later unanimously censure him for his vote to convict.
“Our Constitution and our country is more important than any one person. I voted to convict President Trump because he is guilty,” Cassidy said of his vote.
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb.
Sasse refused to vote for Trump in 2020 and condemned his lies that many say led to the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol, which Trump was charged with inciting.
After reports the Nebraska Republican Party was considering a censure resolution against Sasse ahead of the trial vote, he released a video earlier this month saying he would always vote his conscience even if that ran against the party stream. “The anger in the state party has never been about me violating principle or abandoning conservative policy,” Sasse said in the video.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.
Cheney was one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in the House, prompting a censure from her state GOP earlier this month and intense backlash from House Republicans who called for her to be removed from her position as chair of the Republican Conference.
In a statement responding to her censure, Cheney said that her vote to impeach trump “was compelled by the oath I swore to the Constitution.”
“I will always fight for Wyoming values and stand up for our Western way of life,” the third-ranking Republican leader continued. “We have great challenges ahead of us as we move forward and combat the disastrous policies of the Biden Administration.”
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Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.
Kinzinger, who has been rebuked by state party officials as well as his family and church, was censured by the LaSalle County Republican Central Committee in his district.
“I prefer not be censured, but I really, really will not lose an ounce of sleep if I am. Not even an ounce,” Kinzinger said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Contributing: Christal Hayes and Bart Jansen, USA TODAY; The York Daily Record, USA TODAY Network; The Associated Press