"The NCGOP agrees with the strong majority of Republicans in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate that the Democrat-led attempt to impeach a former president lies outside the United States Constitution," party leadership said in a statement issued shortly before 8:30 p.m., less than half an hour after the party's central committee began its meeting on the issue.
Well before the state party meeting Monday, committee members said they expected a lopsided vote.
"I really can't imagine any other outcome," Charles Hellwig, a Wake County Republican and vice chairman for the state party's 2nd Congressional District, said Monday afternoon.
"I would hope that it would be a unanimous vote," Republican National Committeewoman Kyshia Lineberger said. "Something that can be done, and then we can move past this."
The state party's censure announcement ran three paragraphs, with one dedicated to calling on Democrats to "set aside their divisive partisan agenda and focus on the American priorities of tackling the coronavirus pandemic, safely reopening schools and restarting the economy."
Burr, a three-term senator and former member of the U.S. House, said in his own brief written statement that this is, "truly a sad day for North Carolina Republicans."
"My party's leadership has chosen loyalty to one man over the core principles of the Republican Party and the founders of our great nation," he said.
"That really, I think, gets under the skin of everybody," Hellwig said.
North Carolina's other senator, Republican Thom Tillis, voted to acquit.
"Richard Burr is a great friend and a great senator who has a distinguished record of serving the people of North Carolina," Tillis said in a statement before Monday's censure vote. "He voted his conscience."
"As an impartial juror, my role is now to determine whether House managers have sufficiently made the case for the article of impeachment against President Trump," Burr said in his statement.
“The President promoted unfounded conspiracy theories to cast doubt on the integrity of a free and fair election because he did not like the results," Burr said. "As Congress met to certify the election results, the President directed his supporters to go to the Capitol to disrupt the lawful proceedings required by the Constitution. When the crowd became violent, the President used his office to first inflame the situation instead of immediately calling for an end to the assault."
Lineberger said censure is "not an easy thing to do," and it's not a decision party leaders are making lightly. Asked whether Trump bore responsibility for the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol – a key question in his impeachment trial and one Burr answered with a yes – Lineberger said that's for the former president to decide.
"I think that that is up to the president," she said. "I think that that's personal for him."
Tina Forsberg, another voting member of the state party's central committee, said it's the people who breached the Capitol who bear the responsibility.
The Wake County GOP's resolution says Burr violated "the sacred trust placed in him" by voting to convict Trump on "unsubstantiated and discredited allegations of promoting conspiracy theories and of inciting an insurrection."
It's not clear which conspiracy theories the resolution refers to. The president and his legal team have, at various times over the last three months, pressed a number of them.
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