Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse is calling out state party members who he says are ‘hacked off’ that he condemned President Dump following the Jan. 6 riot.
He released a YouTube video message to the state party’s central committee where he said he was ‘not bending the knee to one guy’ and that the Republican Party was bigger than any one person.
‘Politics isn’t about the weird worship of one dude,’ Sasse said. ‘The party can purge Trump skeptics. But I’d like to convince you that not only is that civic cancer for the nation, it’s just terrible for our party.’
‘Politics isn’t about the weird worship of one dude,’ said Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse
His appeal came after party members moved to censure him after he expressed openness to convicting Trump in his Senate impeachment trial.
Sasse cited his conservative voting record even as he let loose on the former president, saying Trump ‘lied about the election results for 60 days.’
‘Let’s be clear: The anger in this state party has never been about me violating principle or abandoning conservative policy — I’m one of the most conservative voters in the Senate — the anger’s always been simply about me not bending the knee to one guy,’ he said.
Sasse voted to acquit Trump during his first impeachment trial last year, leaving Utah Sen. Mitt Romney as the only Republican to vote to convict on an article.
‘January 6th is going to leave a scar,’ Sasse said. ‘For 220 years, one of the most beautiful things about America has been our peaceful transfer of power. But what Americans saw three weeks ago was ugly, shameful mob violence to disrupt a constitutionally mandated meeting of Congress to affirm that peaceful transfer of power.’
‘January 6th is going to leave a scar,’ Sasse said
Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump climb on walls at the U.S. Capitol during a protest against the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021
Pro-Trump rioters breach the security perimeter and penetrate the U.S. Capitol to protest against the Electoral College vote count that would certify President-elect Joe Biden as the winner in Washington, DC on Wednesday, January 6, 2021
Sasse voted against convicting Trump during his first impeachment
He said ‘political addicts don’t represent most Nebraska conservatives.’
The Nebraska Republican Party’s State Central Committee is expected to vote Feb. 13 on a possible censure. The committee has censured Sasse once before, in March 2016, after he leveled other criticism against then-candidate Trump.
His statement came on a day when the House voted to strip away committee seats for Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who said Thursday she gave up her QAnon beliefs in 2018. The House GOP conference voted against a move to remove Rep. Liz Cheney, who backed impeachment, as the party’s Number Three leader.
Green told reporters Friday that ‘the party is his,’ regarding Trump – directly contradicting Sasse’s claim.
The Arizona Republican GOP voted to censure the late Sen. John McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain, who endorsed Joe Biden, and former Sen. Jeff Flake (R).
‘I´m not going to spend any time trying to talk you out of another censure,’ Sasse said in the video. ‘I listen to Nebraskans every day, and very few of them are as angry about life as some of the people on this committee – not all of you, but a lot. Political addicts don´t represent most Nebraska conservatives.’
Sasse said party activists are ‘hacked off’ that he condemned Trump’s statements to a crowd just before the riot and that he isn’t ‘bending the knee to one guy.’ He also pointed to his voting record as one of the most conservative members of the U.S. Senate.
‘Let’s be clear about why this is happening,’ he said. ‘It’s because I still believe, as you used to, that politics isn’t about the weird worship of one guy.’
Sasse has been openly critical of Trump, drawing criticism from some Nebraska Republicans who wanted him to be loyal to party candidates. Activists have also expressed frustration that Sasse used the GOP label and party resources when he ran for office in Nebraska, but then refused to support their chosen presidential nominee.
Sasse toned down the criticism briefly in 2019 and highlighted areas of agreement with the president when he was running for reelection against a pro-Trump primary challenger. Trump later endorsed Sasse, saying he had done a ‘wonderful job’ representing Nebraska. But a year later, he called on Republicans to replace the senator after Sasse criticized him again.
Nebraska Republican Party Executive Director Ryan Hamilton said the party’s state central committee will decide whether to censure Sasse by a membership vote.
Hamilton said the party has received thousands of phone and email messages expressing dissatisfaction with Sasse after he said Trump ‘consistently lied’ and promoted conspiracy theories after he lost the presidential election. Hamilton said he was aware of at least eight different petitions from local party activists calling for Sasse to be censured again.
Asked Friday whether he would support a censure of Sasse, Gov. Pete Ricketts noted that the senator has been a consistent conservative throughout his Senate career, but acknowledged that he has ‘heard a lot of frustration’ from constituents about Sasse’s public statements. Ricketts said he would rather see party members talk to Sasse directly about their concerns.
‘I think a dialogue would be a better approach,’ Ricketts said. ‘That’s what I would encourage people to do.’
One of the censorship motions came from Scotts Bluff County Republicans in rural, western Nebraska, one of the most pro-Trump areas of the country. Some party activists have said they’re frustrated by what they see as Sasse’s unwillingness to address them directly.
In an open letter to Sasse, County GOP Chairwoman Kolene Woodward said local Republicans were frustrated by his frequent criticism of the former president.
‘You were elected to represent the people of Nebraska who overwhelmingly voted for President Trump,’ Woodward wrote in the letter. ‘Your actions are a selfish, political ploy.’