South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, slammed Republicans who rebuked party members that voted to convict Donald Trump for engaging in “cancel culture,” The Associated Press reports.
State Republican parties have censured several Republican senators who voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial but Thune, who voted to acquit the former president, defended Republicans who cast a “vote of conscience.”
“There was a strong case made,” he said. “People could come to different conclusions. If we’re going to criticize the media and the left for cancel culture, we can’t be doing that ourselves.”
Thune and other Republicans blamed Trump for the riot even as they argued that trying a former official was unconstitutional, even though former officials have been impeached before.
Republicans push back on criticism:
Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who is facing a possible censure from the state GOP, told WCSH that Republicans should focus on “guiding principles” rather than loyalty to a single person.
“I think that we need to send a message that you can be a good Republican and not necessarily agree with every position taken by the party,” she said.
“Obviously there have been some Republicans who are very unhappy with my vote and have let me know that as well,” she added. “So that's more or less what I would expect on a vote of this consequence. What I just wanted to assure people is that I took it my constitutional duty very seriously. That this came down to my fulfilling my oath to the Constitution, and it was a vote of conscience.”
GOP official urges self-reflection:
Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt, a Republican who came under fire amid Trump’s lies about the election in Pennsylvania, said Republicans should instead censure officials that lied to their own voters.
"It's strange to hear Republican organizations complain about cancel culture, and yet they're seeking to censure Republican elected officials who have done nothing more than told the truth," Schmidt told CNN. "If they would like to censure someone, I would suggest they censure Republican elected officials who are lying to voters."
"Those lies have consequences, as we've seen around the country. As we've seen in Washington, D.C., as I've seen outside my house, there are consequences to these lies and honestly, I don't know what the solution is to get around all of this," he added.