Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) is taking aim at allies of former President Donald Trump for criticizing those in the party who voted to convict the former president on the charge of “incitement of insurrection.”
Thune, who voted to acquit Trump in the Senate impeachment trial, is coming to the defense of his fellow Republican colleagues who chose to convict on “vote of conscience,” according to The Associated Press.
The South Dakota lawmaker said “there was a strong case made” by the Democratic impeachment managers.
“People could come to different conclusions,” he added. “If we’re going to criticize the media and the left for cancel culture, we can’t be doing that ourselves.”
After Trump’s acquittal, Thune wrote in a statement:
“My vote to acquit should not be viewed as exoneration for his conduct on January 6, 2021, or in the days and weeks leading up to it. What former President Trump did to undermine faith in our election system and disrupt the peaceful transfer of power is inexcusable.”
He added, “But he is no longer president. The Constitution is clear that the primary purpose of impeachment is removal from office, and that’s what I believe the Founders intended.”
Trump was acquitted on Feb. 13 with a vote of 57-43. Seven Republican lawmakers sided with Democrats in voting to convict. However, it fell short of the 67 votes needed to convict Trump on the charge of inciting an insurrection.
The Republicans who voted to convict Trump included Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).
Following the Senate’s vote, members of the Republican Party have sought to censure and criticize Republican senators who voted to convict Trump.
Thune also indicated he would seek to help candidates “who don’t go off and talk about conspiracies and that sort of thing,” according to AP.
“At the grassroots level, there’s a lot of people who want to see Trump-like candidates,” Thune said. “But I think we’re going to be looking for candidates that are electable.”
The lawmaker lauded House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) for doing an “exceptional job on most issues,” AP reports. Cheney was censured by the Wyoming GOP for her vote in the House of Representatives to impeach Trump.
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