The North Carolina Republican Party voted unanimously on Monday to censor Senator Richard M. Burr for voting to convict former President Donald J. Trump in his second impeachment trial.
The reprimand was the latest fallout for the seven Republicans who sided with the Democrats in an unsuccessful effort to convict Mr. Trump of inciting an insurgency on January 6, when a crowd of Trump supporters went wild. in the Capitol.
The vote for Mr Burr, 65, who will retire after three Senate terms, came as a surprise after he voted earlier against continuing the impeachment trial over a Republican challenge that the Senate had failed no jurisdiction to judge a former president. .
The North Carolina Republican Party said in a statement Monday that the decision to censor Mr. Burr was made by its central committee.
The party “agrees with the strong majority of Republicans in the US House of Representatives and Senate that the Democrat-led attempt to impeach a former president is outside the US Constitution. », Indicates the press release.
Mr Burr issued a brief statement in response saying it was a “really sad day” for Republicans in his state.
“The leaders of my party chose loyalty to one man over the fundamentals of the Republican Party and the founders of our great nation,” he said.
Mr Trump was acquitted on Saturday by a vote of 57 guilty to 43 not guilty who did not meet the two-thirds threshold for conviction. The result was no surprise as only six Republicans had joined with Democrats in clearing the way for the case to be heard by narrowly dismissing a constitutional objection.
Of the seven Republican senators who voted to convict, Mr Burr is not the only one to be reprimanded. The Louisiana Republican Party, for example, said after the impeachment vote it was “deeply disappointed” by the guilty vote of its home Senator Bill Cassidy.
Of the seven, only Mr. Burr and Sen. Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, who is also retiring, will no longer face voters. Mr. Toomey has been berated by several county-level Republican officials in his state in recent days.
Neither senator particularly criticized Mr. Trump while in office.
In 2019, Mr. Burr, then chairman of the Intelligence Committee, subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr.’s testimony as part of his work leading the only bipartisan congressional investigation into Russian election interference. The former president’s son responded by launching a political war against Mr Burr, putting him and the Intelligence Commission on their heels.
On the day of the vote in the impeachment trial, Mr Burr set out the reasons for his guilty vote, saying that the president “bears responsibility” for the events of January 6.
“The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of instigating an insurgency against a branch of the same government and that the charge rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors,” he said. “Therefore, I voted to condemn.”
North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Michael Whatley issued a statement the same day calling Mr Burr’s vote a condemnation “contradictory.”
“The Republicans of North Carolina sent Senator Burr to the United States Senate to uphold the Constitution and his vote today to convict in a lawsuit he said unconstitutional is shocking and disappointing,” Mr. Whatley.
Mr Burr’s impeachment vote has fueled speculation that Mr Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump will seek the seat of the North Carolina Senate that Mr Burr will leave after the 2022 election. Ms Trump, who is married to Eric Trump, grew up in the state, and launched out as a possible successor to Burr for months.
Ms Trump, 38, is a former personal trainer and television producer who grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina.A senior Republican official with knowledge of her plans said if the January 6 riot had soured Ms Trump’s desire to run for a position, she would. decide over the next few months to run as part of a coordinated Trump family return.