BY: MEG CUNNINGHAM AND QUINN SCANLAN, ABC NEWS
(WASHINGTON) — After joining with six Republican colleagues to vote to convict former President Donald Trump on the charge of inciting an insurrection, retiring North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr was censured by his state party.
“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,” North Carolina Republican Party’s Central Committee said in a statement following their unanimous vote Monday night. “The NCGOP agrees with the strong majority of Republicans in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate that the Democrat-led attempt to impeach a former President lies outside the United States Constitution.”
While the impeachment vote was the most bipartisan in history, Democrats were still 10 Republican votes short of the 67 needed to convict Trump.
Michael Whatley, the chairman of the North Carolina GOP, said in a statement that Burr’s vote to convict was “shocking and disappointing.”
“North Carolina Republicans sent Sen. 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,” Whatley said Saturday.
Burr defended his vote in a statement on Saturday, saying Trump bears responsibility for the actions on Jan. 6.
“As I said on January 6th, the President bears responsibility for these tragic events. The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection against a coequal branch of government and that the charge rises to the level of high Crimes and Misdemeanors. Therefore, I have voted to convict,” he said.
Burr faced immediate backlash online from members in his party. Former Rep. Mark Walker, who is running for Burr’s seat, began fundraising off Burr’s vote Saturday afternoon.
“Wrong vote, Sen. Burr,” he wrote on Twitter.
GOP Rep. Dan Bishop said that he supports the immediate censure of Burr. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on Fox News Sunday that Burr made Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump “almost the certain nominee for the Senate seat” if she chooses to run.
“I certainly will be behind her because I think she represents the future of the Republican Party,” Graham added.
Of the seven GOP senators who voted to convict Trump, two are retiring — Burr and Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey — and only one will be on the ballot in 2022: Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
Sen. Bill Cassidy was unanimously censured by the Louisiana GOP executive committee just hours after he voted to convict Trump Saturday. Toomey is facing censure in at least two counties in Pennsylvania.
“As these facts become more and more out there, if you will, and folks have a chance to look for themselves, more folks will move to where I was,” Cassidy said on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday when asked about that censure. “I’m attempting to hold President Trump accountable … and I am very confident that as time passes people will move to that position.”
In Utah, while there are some Republicans who are attempting to censure Sen. Mitt Romney, according to a Google doc petition first reported by the Salt Lake Tribune, the state party said they are not behind this move and Utah GOP Chairman Derek Brown told ABC News he hasn’t seen any such document.
In a statement issued Saturday following the vote, the Utah GOP indicated support for both of the state’s senators despite their differing votes.
“Our Senators have both been criticized for their vote. The differences between our own Utah Republicans showcase a diversity of thought, in contrast to the danger of a party fixated on ‘unanimity of thought,"” the statement said.
The 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump back in January have also faced censure, public condemnation or the threat of primary challengers.
ABC News’ Alisa Wiersema contributed reporting.
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