Richard Burr Says North Carolina GOP Chose Loyalty to Donald Trump Over Party's Principles

North Carolina Senator Richard Burr has said his censure for voting to convict former President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial represented a "sad day" for his state's Republican party.

Burr was among seven GOP Senators to vote against Trump on a charge of inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

Trump was acquitted because the overall 57-43 vote to convict fell short of the two-thirds majority required, but Burr is facing a local backlash for his decision.

On Monday, the North Carolina GOP's central committee of around 30 officials voted unanimously to censure Burr, who is in his third term in the U.S. Senate.

"We felt it was important for the party to make a statement that we disagree with the vote," NCGOP Chairman Michael Whatley told The Charlotte Observer, "the overwhelming sentiment was disapproval of the senator's vote."

Republicans in Wake County also issued an official censure on Monday.

Censures are a public reprimand but will not directly impact Burr's position in the Senate.

Senator Richard Burr
Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) on Capitol Hill February 4, 2021 in Washington, DC. He has been censured by local GOP for voting for former president Donald Trump's conviction in the Senate. Mandel Ngan-Pool/Getty Images

But Burr, who has previously said he will not seek a fourth term in 2022, defended his stance and hit back at his censure.

"It is truly a sad day for North Carolina Republicans," he said in a statement:

"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."

Burr had twice voted that the impeachment trial was not constitutional because Trump had left office before the trial. However, he said he voted to convict after being convinced by the evidence presented by impeachment managers.

In a statement on Saturday, Burr said that—given that the Senate voted to proceed with the trial—the trial's constitutionality had become "established precedent."

He said Trump "promoted unfounded conspiracy theories" to cast doubt on election "because he did not like the results" and that he used his office "to first inflame the situation instead of immediately calling for an end to the assault."

"The President bears responsibility for these tragic events," adding, "I do not make this decision lightly, but I believe it is necessary."

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham has suggested Burr's vote puts Wilmington-native, and Trump's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, in the frame for the Senate seat.

After January 6, around 6,000 North Carolina Republicans changed their party affiliation, The Observer reported, out of an electoral base of about 2.1 million registered GOP voters.

Former Burr staffer and communications chief for the Republican National Committee, Doug Heye, told the newspaper that "censuring one of your own because you didn't like how he voted on one thing isn't going to win back any of those voters.

"It sends a sign that party leadership is still showing fealty to the exiled king."

Newsweek has contacted the North Carolina Republican Party for comment.