Trump impeachment aftermath
The North Carolina Republican Party voted unanimously Monday night to censure Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) for his vote to convict former President Donald Trump of inciting a insurrection at his impeachment trial Saturday. The state GOP's emergency meeting, set up Sunday, was held over Zoom.
"We felt it was important for the party to make a statement that we disagree with the vote," said North Carolina GOP Chairman Michael Whatley. Whaley and other state Republicans argued that after Burr voted for a motion calling Trump's trial unconstitutional, he shouldn't have then voted to convict. Most of Burr's Senate GOP colleagues leaned on their process argument that the Senate had no jurisdiction to try a former president, but Burr said once the Senate had dismissed that argument, he had to convict. "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," he said after his vote.
On Monday night, Burr called the state GOP's decision to censure him a "truly sad day" for North Carolina Republicans. "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," he said.
Burr, 65, has already announced he is not seeking a fourth term in the Senate after his term ends in 2022, and the public rebuke of a censure doesn't carry any real punishment related to his day job, The Charlotte Observer notes. "What message does this send at a time when the party is hemorrhaging voters?" said Doug Heye, a former Burr staffer and Republican National Committee spokesman.
Pointing to the nearly 6,000 North Carolinians who switched party affiliation from Republican after the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol, Heye said censuring Burr "isn't going to win back any of those voters" and just "sends a sign that party leadership is still showing fealty to the exiled king." At least three more of the Republicans who voted to convict Trump — Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) — also face censure votes back home.