South Carolina GOP Censures Rep. Rice Over Trump Impeachment Vote

January 31, 2021 Updated: February 2, 2021

The South Carolina Republican Party has voted to formally censure Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.), who sided with Democrats in support of the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump.

Rice was one of 10 Republicans who joined Democrats in impeaching Trump for a second time, in a 232–197 vote in the House on Jan. 13. Trump was impeached for allegedly inciting violence a week earlier at the U.S. Capitol. He has argued that a speech he gave that day was “totally appropriate.”

In a statement, state GOP Chairman Drew McKissick noted that after the impeachment vote, an effort to condemn Rice emerged at the grassroots level from a county in his district. The resolution advanced through various committees before being approved by the state executive committee.

“We made our disappointment clear the night of the impeachment vote. Trying to impeach a president, with a week left in his term, is never legitimate and is nothing more than a political kick on the way out the door,” McKissick said.

“Congressman Rice’s vote, unfortunately, played right into the Democrats’ game, and the people in his district, and ultimately our State Executive Committee wanted him to know they wholeheartedly disagree with his decision.”

Rice’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

The Republicans who voted to impeach Trump have faced criticism for their decision, with some already facing challenges for their seats. Several Republicans in South Carolina have said that they are looking to challenge Rice, with one state lawmaker saying that he’s formed an exploratory committee for a potential run against Rice.

On the day after the vote, Rice acknowledged to The Associated Press that his vote could cost him reelection. But he said that to impeach Trump was more important to him, because of what he described as Trump’s inaction during the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol breach.

“I can’t imagine another president in my lifetime that would not have tried to intervene there, would not have tried to say, ‘Hey, this needs to stop, and you need to go home,’” Rice told the news service in an interview.

The media, lawmakers, former officials, and other critics have focused the blame on Trump for the Jan. 6 incident. The president had addressed a crowd in Washington, where he reiterated his allegations about election irregularities and fraud and his dissatisfaction with the media and several lawmakers.

Protestors began their demonstration at the U.S. Capitol before Trump completed his address at the rally. Trump had also been posting on Twitter throughout the afternoon, urging his supporters to remain peaceful. He eventually released a video, which was taken down by Twitter, that called on his supporters to “go home now.”

“You have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order and great people in law [enforcement],” Trump said in a video address at the time.

Similarly, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the No. 3-ranking Republican in the House, also is facing a challenger, state Sen. Richard Bouchard, for her Wyoming seat. In announcing his candidacy, Bouchard called Cheney “out-of-touch” with Wyoming, where Trump won about 70 percent of the votes in 2020.

Other members facing challengers include Reps. David Valadao (R-Calif.), Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), and Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio).

The unprecedented nature of this month’s impeachment trial has raised questions over its constitutionality. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are arguing whether the impeachment trial can go ahead given that Trump had already left office and is now a private citizen.

Chief Justice John Roberts has decided not to preside over the proceedings.

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