An unexpected reversal from Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy (LA) who voted in favor of the constitutionality of former President Donald Trump’s impeachment on Tuesday, drew ire from the Louisiana Republican Party who quickly issued a statement to criticize the move.
“We feel that an impeachment trial of a private citizen is not only an unconstitutional act, but also an attack on the very foundation of American democracy, which will have far reaching and unforeseen consequences for our republic,” the party wrote in a statement Tuesday.
“We also remind all Americans that former President Trump is innocent of the politically motivated, bogus charges now pending against him in a kangaroo court presided over by an openly hostile political opponent,” the statement said.
The news comes after Cassidy became one of just six Republicans who joined Democratic colleagues on Tuesday to vote that the impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump is constitutional. Cassidy was the only Republican to switch his vote in a trial that has thus far been widely viewed as predetermined, after an initial vote on constitutionality last month.
Cassidy said the reason he had flipped was because Trump’s attorneys hadn’t been convincing in their case, suggesting the former president’s lawyers had done “a terrible job” of arguing their case on the trial’s opening day.
The Louisiana lawmaker told reporters that while House impeachment managers were “focused” and put forward a “compelling argument” Trump’s team was by contrast “disorganized, random, had nothing.”
“They talked about many things, but they didn’t talk about the issue at hand,” Cassidy said after the 56-44 final vote closed the first day’s proceedings.
It remains unclear what to make of the Republican senator’s decision to break from his previous stance in favor of moving forward with the trial. It seems unlikely that he will part with Republicans who by and large do not want to convict Trump.
“I have not yet decided on how I will vote,” Cassidy told the Associated Press during a phone call ahead of the afternoon trial on Tuesday.
Cassidy is in a position that is distinctly different from some of his GOP colleagues after winning reelection this fall for a six-year term, that gives him some leverage to have less fear over retribution from Trump loyalists in his state.
Cassidy was also one of just a few senators who recognized President Joe Biden’s electoral victory weeks ahead of colleagues who continued for weeks to prop up bogus conspiracy theories about a stolen election.
In its statement on Tuesday night, Louisiana’s Republican Party praised the state’s junior GOP senator, John Kennedy, for voting against moving ahead with the impeachment trial.
Kennedy has appeared to use the impeachment trial as party of an effort to reinforce his chances of reelection next year, painting the trial as unconstitutional and calling it according to AP: “a thinly veiled effort by the uber-elites in our country, who look down on most Americans, to denigrate further those people who chose to vote for President Trump and not vote for President Biden.”