NC Republican Party censures Sen. Richard Burr over impeachment vote

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., listens during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on the nomination Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to be labor secretary on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP)

RALEIGH — The North Carolina Republican Party voted unanimously on Monday, Feb. 15 to censure Sen. Richard Burr following his vote to convict former President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial two days earlier.

Burr, a three-term Republican, was one of seven Republican senators to join all 50 Democrats in convicting Trump of the single charge of incitement of insurrection. As impeachment requires a two-thirds vote to convict, Trump was acquitted of the charge.

In a statement, the members of the state’s central committee said the vote to censure Burr was unanimous.

“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 Constitution.”

The central committee is composed of local party members from each of the state’s 13 congressional districts, as well as the state party’s leadership, auxiliary club chairs and other prominent activists.

“North Carolina Republicans sent Senator Burr to the United States Senate to uphold the Constitution and his vote to convict in a trial that he declared unconstitutional is shocking and disappointing,” said NCGOP Chairman Michael Whatley shortly after Burr’s vote on Saturday.

In response to the censure vote, Burr released a statement, saying, “It is 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.”

Trump won the state’s 15 electoral votes in both 2016 and 2020.

On Sunday, Feb. 14, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said in an interview on Fox News Sunday, “My friend Richard Burr just made Lara Trump almost the certain nominee for the Senate seat in North Carolina to replace him if she runs,” another sign of displeasure over Burr’s vote.

Lara Trump, a New Hanover County native and NC State University graduate, has not filed paperwork or established residency in the state.

Following the Saturday vote, Burr said, “I have listened to the arguments presented by both sides and considered the facts. The facts are clear. When this process started, I believed that it was unconstitutional to impeach a president who was no longer in office. I still believe that to be the case.”

Burr said as in impartial juror, his role was to determine whether the House managers sufficiently made their case.

“The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection against a co-equal branch of government and that the charge rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors. Therefore, I have voted to convict,” Burr continued. “I do not make this decision lightly, but I believe it is necessary. By what he did and by what he did not do, President Trump violated his oath of office to preserve protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The state’s Sixth Congressional District chair, Tina Forsberg, told North State Journal, “The people of NC need to know their Republican Party stands with them and with the Constitution. Tonight it was the unhappy duty of the NC GOP Central Committee to vote to censure Sen. Burr for his baffling and disappointing vote to impeach following his vote to stop the impeachment.”

In a sign that the party wanted to move forward, the end of the statement said, “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.”