Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) became the only member of the Republican Party to vote to convict former President Donald Trump for incitement of insurrection after voting only earlier this week that the trial was unconstitutional.
In a statement after the trial, Burr argued that while he still believed that the trial was unconstitutional, because the Senate established a “precedent” that the trial was constitutional, he was forced to consider the evidence presented to him as an impartial juror.
“The President promoted unfounded conspiracy theories to cast doubt on the integrity of a free and fair election because he did not like the results. As Congress met to certify the election results, the President directed his supporters to go to the Capitol to disrupt the lawful proceedings required by the Constitution. When the crowd became violent, the President used his office to first inflame the situation instead of immediately calling for an end to the assault,” said Burr.
“As I said on January 6th, the President bears responsibility for these tragic events. 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 senator explained in a statement after the trial.
In response to the vote, the chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party called Burr’s vote “disappointing,” and in a brief press release, the state party referred to Burr’s impeachment trial vote as “contradictory.”
“North Carolina Republicans sent Senator Burr to the United States Senate to uphold the Constitution and his vote today to convict in a trial that he declared unconstitutional is shocking and disappointing,” said North Carolina GOP Chairman Michael Whatley.
In total, every Democratic senator and seven Republican senators voted to convict Trump, leaving the group 10 votes shy of the necessary threshold required for conviction in the Senate. The other Republican senators who voted to convict Trump were Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
In Burr’s statement, the North Carolina Republican, who is retiring in 2022, explained that he “did not make this decision lightly,” but believed that Trump ultimately violated his oath of office based on what the president “did and did not do.”
“My hope is that with today’s vote America can begin to move forward and focus on the critical issues facing our country today,” he concluded.
Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), who previously voted that the trial was unconstitutional but later changed his stance at a similar vote weeks later, has since been censured by his state Republican Party’s executive committee.