The North Carolina Republican Party voted on Monday to censure Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) for voting “guilty” against former President Donald Trump in his second Senate impeachment trial.
Burr was one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump. Despite their efforts, Trump was still acquitted because the final vote, 57-43, fell short of the 67-vote threshold needed for a conviction.
What are the details?
The NCGOP central committee voted unanimously to censure Burr, the Tar Heel State’s senior senator.
In a statement, the state Republicans explained they punished Burr because they believed holding an impeachment trial of Trump 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 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.
In fact, the constitutionality of holding an impeachment trial against Trump, now a former president, was a question that loomed over last week’s trial.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) explained after voting to acquit Trump that, although he blames Trump for the deadly violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the former president was “not eligible for conviction.”
Despite Trump having been formally impeached while he was still in office, now that he is a private citizen, McConnell said the Senate did not have jurisdiction to conduct an impeachment trial against him. McConnell cited Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, which appears to limit the Constitution’s impeachment mechanisms to “the president, vice president, and all civil officers of the United States.”
Why did Burr vote to convict?
Following his vote, Burr explained that he agreed about the unconstitutionality of holding the trial. But he claimed that because a majority of senators agreed to hold the trial, the precedent for conducting it was set.
According to Burr, the facts surrounding Trump’s guilt of “incitement of insurrection” were clear.
“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,” Burr explained. “I do not make this decision lightly, but I believe it is necessary.”
How did Burr react to being censured?
In a brief statement, Burr accused the North Carolina Republican Party of expressing loyalty to Trump over the principles of the Republican Party.
“My party’s leadership has chosen loyalty to one man over the core principles of the Republican Party and the founders of our great nation,” Burr said, according to Politico.
Burr is not the only Republican senator who has been reprimanded for voting to convict Trump.
Meanwhile, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) will likely be censured, too, but the Nebraska GOP had already drafted a resolution to censure him prior to his vote to convict. The Nebraska Republican Party is angry that Sasse has been critical of Trump.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who also voted to convict Trump, will likely not be reprimanded for her vote.
Interestingly, the Utah Republican Party released a statement Monday expressing support for Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), the only Republican senator who voted “guilty” in both of Trump’s Senate impeachment trials.
“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 Utah GOP said. “As 2021 begins, we look neither to the past, nor to be punitive.”
Burr is not seeking re-election to a fourth term. He will retire from the Senate after 2022.