Seven Republican senators broke from the party to vote against Donald Trump at the conclusion of his impeachment trial on Saturday, but no vote was stranger than the one from Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). After the trial, Burr was forced to explain how he decided to vote for conviction only a week after voting to declare the whole trial unconstitutional.
In a statement, Burr said that while he still considers the trial to be a violation of the Constitution, he could not ignore the evidence presented against the former president.
“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. 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,” said Burr.
“As I said on January 6th, the President bears responsibility for these tragic events. The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection against a coequal branch of government and that the charge rises to the level of high Crimes and Misdemeanors. Therefore, I have voted to convict,” he continued.
Burr’s nonsensical turnaround drew condemnation from the North Carolina Republican Party.
“North Carolina Republicans sent Senator Burr to the United States Senate to uphold the Constitution and his vote today to convict in a trial that he declared unconstitutional is shocking and disappointing,” said state GOP Chairman Michael Whatley.
In voting to convict Trump, Burr joined ranks with six other Republicans and every Democrat in the Senate. The other Republicans to vote that way include Sens. Bill Cassidy, Pat Toomey, Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, and Ben Sasse. It wasn’t enough to reach the 67-vote threshold for conviction, however, and Trump became the first president in U.S. history to survive two impeachment efforts by the opposing party.
In his statement, Burr said that he “did not make this decision lightly.”
“My hope is that with today’s vote America can begin to move forward and focus on the critical issues facing our country today,” he concluded.
Burr is retiring in 2022, so he will be largely shielded from the political consequences of his vote.