Raleigh, NC In a unanimous vote Monday night, the Republican Party leader in North Carolina criticized U.S. Senator Richard Burr for voting to convict former President Donald Trump over the weekend in his prosecution.
“The NCGOP agrees with the strong majority of Republicans in both the US House of Representatives and the Senate that the Democratic-led attempt to accuse a former president is outside the US Constitution,” the party leadership said in a statement issued shortly before noon. 8.30. pm, less than half an hour after the party’s central committee began its meeting on the subject.
County-level parties are likely to reprimand Burr, one of seven Senate Republicans who voted to judge Trump too. The Wake County Republican Party said on his Facebook page Monday night that it did so Sunday and voted not only to censor Burr, but to ban the Winston-Salem Republican from the party’s Raleigh office.
Long before the state party meeting on Monday, committee members said they expected a skewed vote.
“I really can not imagine any other result,” Charles Hellwig, a Republican from Wake County and vice president of the State Party’s Second Congress District, said Monday afternoon.
“I hope it would be a unanimous vote,” said Republican National Committee woman Kyshia Lineberger. “Something that can be done and then we can move past this.”
The State Party’s no-confidence motion ran three sections, one of which was dedicated to urging Democrats to “set aside their divisive party agenda and focus on U.S. priorities to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, reopen schools safely, and restart the economy.”
This statement was what the members of the Central Committee voted on. There was no further distrust resolution.
Burr, a three-member senator and former member of the U.S. House, said in his own brief written statement that this is “truly a sad day for Republicans in North Carolina.”
“My party leadership has chosen loyalty to a man over the fundamental principles of the Republican Party and the founders of our great nation,” he said.
It’s not just Burr’s vote Saturday to convict former President Donald Trump of accusations that attracted the anger of party loyalists, even though it really did anger many. It is that Burr originally said the U.S. Senate negotiations were unconstitutional, and then voted to fall anyway when the negotiations were concluded.
“I think it really gets under everyone’s skin,” Hellwig said.
North Carolina’s second senator, Republican Thom Tillis, voted in favor of the acquittal.
“Richard Burr is a great friend and a great senator who holds an excellent record for serving the people of North Carolina,” Tillis said in a statement before Monday’s no-confidence vote. “He voiced his conscience.”
The misdemeanor is a formal reprimand and little else. That does not stop Burr from running for office, though he has already said he will not run for re-election when his term ends next year. He explained his vote on the indictment in a statement released Saturdayand said he believed it was constitutional to accuse a president after he left office, but when a majority in the Senate voted to move forward, “the issue of constitutionality has now established precedent.”
“As an impartial jury member, my role now is to determine whether homeowners have adequately raised the case for the indictment against President Trump,” Burr said in his statement.
“The president promoted unfounded conspiracy theories to question the integrity of a free and fair election because he disliked the results,” Burr said. “When Congress met to certify the election results, the president instructed his supporters to go to the Capitol to disrupt the legal procedure required by the Constitution. When the crowd became violent, the president used his office to first incite the situation instead of immediately calling for an end to the attack. “
Censorships are rare at the state party level. WRAL News requested from the state party but did not receive a list of previous censors. The latest vote of no confidence seems to be by former party chairman Hasan Harnett, was reprimanded, then removed from the party presidency in 2016.
Some have noted that the immediate former chairman Robin Hayes, a former member of Congress, was not censored when he was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice or when he pleaded guilty to lie to the FBI in that case. Hayes was accused of laundering bribes through the state party and Trump pardoned him last month.
Lineberger said mistrust is “not an easy thing to do” and it is not a decision that party leaders take lightly. Asked if Trump was responsible for the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol – a key issue in his prosecution, and a Burr answered in the affirmative – Lineberger said it was the former president’s decision.
“I think it’s up to the president,” she said. “I think it’s personal to him.”
Tina Forsberg, another voting member of the state party’s central committee, said that it is the people who have violated the Capitol who bear the responsibility.
The Wake County GOP’s decision says Burr violated “the sacred trust placed in him” by voting to convict Trump of “unfounded and discredited accusations of promoting conspiracy theories and inciting a revolt.”
It is not clear which conspiracy theories the resolution refers to. The president and his legal team have been pressuring a number of them at various times over the past three months.
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