Republican senators who voted against Trump censured

Backlash against those who voted against ex-president in impeachment trial

 Richard Burr: “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.”  said the Republican senator from North Carolina.  Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Bloomberg

Richard Burr: “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.” said the Republican senator from North Carolina. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Bloomberg

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The fallout from Donald Trump’s acquittal in his second impeachment trial continued on Tuesday as several Republican senators who voted against the former president were censured by their local party organisations.

Richard Burr of North Carolina, one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Mr Trump in the trial, which concluded on Saturday, was reprimanded by his party.

Michael Whatley, the chairman of the party’s state central committee, called Mr Burr’s vote “shocking and disappointing” and said the senator should have voted  “with the strong majority of Republicans in both the US House of Representatives and Senate” who believe that the impeachment was unconstitutional.

Mr Burr, who had already announced he would not be running for his seat in next year’s midterm elections, said it was a “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.

Trump ally Lindsey Graham, who represents neighbouring South Carolina in the Senate, speculated that Mr Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump could contest Mr Burr’s seat in the 2022 elections.

Other senators felt the wrath of local officials as the divisions within the GOP were laid bare. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania was formally censured by the Republican leadership in several counties in the state, and could face further action by the statewide party.

Similarly, Republican senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine – who both voted to convict Mr Trump – face possible censure by party officials in their states.

Only one of the seven Republicans who voted against Mr Trump – Alaska senator Lisa Murkowski – faces re-election next year.

The backlash against Republicans who voted against the former president comes amid similar divisions in the House of Representatives.

Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the chamber, faced a vote of no-confidence among House Republicans earlier this month after she voted to impeach Mr Trump over his role in inciting the January 6th attack on the US Capitol, though she comfortably survived it.

The rancour in the Republican Party in the wake of Mr Trump’s second impeachment trial comes as House speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the establishment of an independent commission to investigate the events of January 6th, modelled on one set up after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001.

Civil action

“We must get to the truth of how this happened,” she wrote in a letter to Democratic colleagues. White House press secretary Joe Psaki said president Joe Biden supported the move.

Amid speculation that Mr Trump could still face civil action over his role in the Capitol riot, Democratic congressman Bennie Thompson has sued Mr Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, accusing both men of conspiring with right-wing groups to incite the resurrection.

While legal experts suggest it will be difficult to pursue Mr Trump in the courts for his  role in the events, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell hinted in his speech after the impeachment vote that Mr Trump could face further legal jeopardy.

“President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, as an ordinary citizen. Unless the statute of limitations is run, he’s still liable for everything he did while he was office. He didn’t get away with anything yet,” he said.