The Republican Party in East Baton Rouge, Louisana, censured Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) after he voted to affirm the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, underscoring the former president’s popularity in the GOP.
The local Republican group announced on Wednesday that it unanimously censured Cassidy.
“We condemn Senator Cassidy’s actions in the strongest manner. He does not represent the people of this state or the Republican Party. He represents himself and has joined with some of the most dishonest and disreputable forces in our country to be part of this despicable sham,” the party said in a post on Facebook. It added that Cassidy’s vote was “a betrayal of the people of Louisiana and a rebuke to those who supported President Trump and him.”
A spokesperson for Cassidy told the Epoch Times to refer to a tweeted video posted by Cassidy on Feb. 11, who argued that people “should listen to the arguments yourself and come to your own conclusion.” He added that he’s a “constitutional conservative” who takes his “oath seriously.”
Cassidy, meanwhile, told reporters late Wednesday that his “first loyalty is to the constitution,” not Trump.
“I took an oath to uphold the constitution. A constitutional conservative takes that oath seriously. So, if I’m here to uphold the constitution, I’m upholding it. I’m doing my job,” he added.
— U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (@SenBillCassidy) February 11, 2021
The Republican Party’s text also accused House Democrats of engaging in an unconstitutional act by seeking to remove a former official. The move “would be undemocratic” and violates the Constitution, it said, adding that it would “place the United States in the category with Russia and various dictatorships and oligarchies around the world where the leading opposition figure is forbidden to run for President.”
Cassidy joined five other Republicans on Tuesday to vote that Trump’s Senate trial is constitutional. Every other Republican, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), voted to say that the trial is unconsitutional—saying that President Joe Biden has taken office and Trump is a private citizen.
In explaining the vote, Cassidy said Trump’s attorneys on Tuesday didn’t lay out a good argument for why Trump shouldn’t be impeached, or why the trial shouldn’t go ahead as planned. Other than Cassidy, a number of other conservatives appeared to take issue with lawyers David Schoen and Bruce Castor in how they presented their case.
“I always said I’d be an impartial juror. Anyone listening to those arguments would recognize that the House managers were focused. They relied upon precedent, upon the opinion of legal scholars,” he said. “Anyone who listened to President Trump’s legal team saw they were unfocused, they attempted to avoid the issue, and they talked about everything but the issue at hand.”
Despite having voted in favor of the trial, it’s not clear whether Cassidy will vote to convict Trump. The House last month impeached Trump for allegedly inciting the breach of the Capitol on Jan. 6.
But the move by state Republicans to censure Cassidy is a part of a growing trend within the local Republican parties to condemn elected officials who voted in favor of Trump’s impeachment. Notably, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), came under fire for her vote to impeach Trump.
Wyoming Republicans recently voted to censure her, while Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) publicly campaigned against her in Cheyenne last month.
Meanwhile, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) also appears to be facing similar blowback from Republicans in his state. Lincoln County’s Republican Party this week voted to censure Sasse over his votes to push the impeachment trial forward.