Despite GOP outcry, Cassidy ‘at peace’ with impeachment vote

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Bill Cassidy

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., talks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, on the fourth day of the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Trashed on social media and censured by Louisiana Republicans, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy described himself Wednesday as “at peace” with his vote to convict former President Donald Trump at his impeachment trial and dismissed the scorching GOP backlash he’s received.

Louisiana’s senior Republican senator said he does not believe the criticism represents the feelings of many of his party’s voters. He said the censure he received from the leadership of the state Republican Party represented “a small group of people,” not the “broader Republican Party.”

“I am such at peace with that vote. I say that knowing that I’m getting criticized, but I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution,” Cassidy said in a conference call with reporters on a variety of topics.

Cassidy joined six other Senate Republicans in voting with Democrats on Feb. 13 to convict Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in an impeachment trial that saw the former president acquitted. Louisiana’s other U.S. senator, Republican John Kennedy, voted against conviction.

“I’ve received comments from folks who are Republican who object to the vote,” Cassidy said. “I’ve received a heck of a lot of folks who agree with me or, if they don’t agree with me, respect the kind of thought process that went into it.”

He added: “There’s a diversity of opinion among Louisiana Republicans, even if there is not among a very small group of people.”

Though the 57-43 Senate vote was short of the two-thirds majority needed to find Trump guilty, the seven GOP votes against Trump represented the largest number of lawmakers to ever vote to find a president of their own party guilty at impeachment proceedings.

Some Republicans who voted to acquit Trump said they did not believe the Democrats proved their case that the former president was directly responsible for inciting hundreds of people to storm the Capitol building in a riot that left five people dead. Other Republicans said they simply did not believe Congress had jurisdiction over a president no longer in office.

Cassidy has tried to change the conversation since the impeachment trial ended, sending out daily statements about a variety of subjects and talking about other issues, such as the confirmation hearings of President Joe Biden’s cabinet appointments and recovery from the icy weather.

But Trump supporters don’t want to move on, and they’ve been slamming Cassidy on conservative talk radio and websites. They’ve called for Republicans to ban Cassidy from their events, and several local Republican groups have joined the executive committee of the state GOP in condemning Cassidy’s vote to convict Trump.

Cassidy, a doctor, overwhelmingly won reelection in November to a second term, with Trump’s backing. Asked whether his vote to convict Trump could damage his chances of reelection in 2026, Cassidy replied: “It is six years off, but that’s immaterial. I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution.”

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Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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