Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) is facing a growing threat of censure by the Republican Party of his home state for his criticism of former President Donald Trump.
A vocal critic of Trump, Sasse tuned down his rhetoric when Trump in September 2019 endorsed him for reelection, but renewed his criticism after he defeated his Republican primary challenger in November 2020. In the wake of the Jan. 6 violence at the U.S. Capitol, Sasse blamed Trump for the mayhem, and voted in favor of the outgoing president’s second impeachment trial.
The local Republican Party in Sarpy County, Nebraska’s most populous Republican-majority county, voted on Thursday to join Republicans in two other counties in their effort to condemn Sasse, reported the Omaha World-Herald.
In a resolution passed by a 2-1 vote, the Sarpy Republicans declared that Sasse has “violated the trust of his voters” by making “repeated character attacks” against Trump, including referring to the then-sitting Republican president as “liar” and “wicked.”
Sasse is also a target because he refused to recognize an alleged “organized Democratic fraud” that “tainted” the 2020 presidential election results in serval heavily contested states, and later attacked Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) for objecting to electoral votes from states where election integrity has been put into question.
Similar censure proposals have been sent to the Nebraska Republican Party’s Central Committee, which will vote on whether to formally censure Sasse at a meeting scheduled for Feb. 13. The committee has previously censured Sasse for being unsupportive of Trump.
In a video addressed to members of the Central Committee, Sasse criticized their censuring efforts and defended his remarks about Trump.
“I’ve heard from many of you in the days since the attack on the Capitol threatening another censure for what I said about the president’s lies after the election,” he said. “I’m not going to spend any time trying to talk you out of another censure. I listen to Nebraskans every day, and very few of them are as angry at life as some of the people on this committee. Not all of you, but a lot. Political addicts don’t represent most Nebraska conservatives.”
Describing himself as “one of the most conservative voters in the Senate,” Sasse dismissed the claim of wide-spread election fraud as conspiracy theories and lies, and denounced those seeking to censure him for acting like cult members.
“Personality cults aren’t conservative, conspiracy theories aren’t conservative, lying that an election has been stolen isn’t conservative, acting like politics is a religion isn’t conservative,” he said.