The North Carolina Republican Party central committee voted Monday to censure Sen. Richard Burr for his vote to convict former President Donald Trump during his second impeachment trial – a move that made him the latest GOP senator to be reprimanded by his state party for siding with Democrats in the trial.
The result was expected, given the swift Republican anger toward the senator on Saturday after he cast his guilty vote. Among Burr’s critics is state party chairman Michael Whatley, who called the senator’s decision “shocking and disappointing.”
In a statement released after the vote, the committee members said the unanimous vote was aimed at punishing Burr for his “vote to convict former President Trump in the impeachment trial which he declared to be unconstitutional.”
The committee specifically said Burr should have aligned himself “with the strong majority of Republicans in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate” who believe that the impeachment was unconstitutional.
“Now that the Senate has voted to acquit President Trump, we hope that Democrats will set aside their divisive partisan agenda and focus on the American priorities of tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, safely reopening schools and restarting the economy,” the committee said.
In a statement, Burr said it was “truly 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.
Whatley insisted Tuesday that the committee’s censure vote isn’t a “statement against Richard Burr as a senator,” but a demonstration that they disagree with Burr’s vote finding Trump guilty after voting that the trial was unconstitutional.
“I don’t think that you should read anything into this resolution that was passed last night other than the fact that, across the board, the North Carolina Republicans were disappointed with Sen. Burr’s vote,” he told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day.”
Though Burr has already announced he will not seek reelection in 2022 and therefore will not face voters again, the vote underscores his party’s dissatisfaction with his decision and makes Burr, who was one of seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump, the latest member of that group to face a censure vote by his state party.
Sen. Bill Cassidy was censured by the Louisiana Republican Party on Saturday after he also cast a guilty vote in the trial – a rebuke the senator later brushed off, saying he was elected to “uphold an oath to support and defend the Constitution.”
The 57 guilty votes on Saturday fell short of the 67 needed to convict the former President, resulting in his acquittal on the charge of inciting the January 6 insurrection.
Kyshia Lineberger, the RNC committeewoman from North Carolina, said before the vote that she believed Burr deserved censure.
“I am voting yes because he failed his state and his constituents by voting to convict FORMER President Trump in what was an unconstitutional trial. A trial that even he said was unconstitutional,” she said in an email. “At the end of the day, America is a Republic where we the people elect representatives. Senator Burr did not represent the will of the people and that is a shame.”
Burr said in a statement on Saturday that Trump “bears responsibility” for the insurrection, adding that the former President “used his office to first inflame the situation instead of immediately calling for an end to the assault.”
“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,” the statement read.
CNN’s Daniella Diaz and Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.