GOP Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGOP rallies around Manchin, Sinema McConnell gets GOP wake-up call Democrat on controversial Schumer speech: Timing 'may not have been the best' MORE (S.D.) on Thursday blasted members of his party for rushing to censure the Republican lawmakers who voted in favor of convicting former President TrumpDonald TrumpRobert Gates says 'extreme polarization' is the greatest threat to US democracy Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Schiff says holding Bannon in criminal contempt 'a way of getting people's attention' MORE, accusing them of engaging in “cancel culture.”
The Associated Press reported that Thune, the No. 2 Republican senator, defended his GOP colleagues who voted to convict Trump in the first interview he has had since he voted to acquit the former president.
“There was a strong case made,” Thune said. “People could come to different conclusions. If we’re going to criticize the media and the left for cancel culture, we can’t be doing that ourselves.”
As the AP notes, Thune has stood by House Republican Conference Chairwoman Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyBennie Thompson not ruling out subpoenaing Trump Anti-Trump Republicans endorsing vulnerable Democrats to prevent GOP takeover Thiel backing Trump-supported challenger to Cheney: report MORE (R-Wyo.) after she voted to impeach Trump. The Wyoming GOP voted to censure Cheney, and Republican lawmakers such as Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzRepublicans' mantra should have been 'Stop the Spread' Gaetz associate asks for another sentencing delay amid cooperation with feds Trial set in alleged M scheme to extort Gaetz family MORE (Fla.) have led calls for Cheney to be removed from power.
According to the AP, Thune also indicated that he would assist candidates who “don’t go off and talk about conspiracies and that sort of thing.”
“At the grassroots level, there’s a lot of people who want to see Trump-like candidates,” Thune said. “But I think we’re going to be looking for candidates that are electable.”
Trump was acquitted last week for the second time after the Senate failed to secure the 67 votes needed to convict him. Seven Republican senators voted to convict, making it the most bipartisan impeachment vote in history.
Thune indicated last week that he was open to censuring Trump before the final impeachment vote was held.
"I know there are a couple of resolutions out there ... I've seen a couple of resolutions at least that I think could attract some support," Thune said to reporters at the time.
The vote to censure Trump would require 60 Senate votes, meaning Democrats would need 10 Republicans to vote in favor of censure.
Democratic lawmakers have also discussed using the 14th Amendment to prevent Trump from running for federal office again in the future. However, Thune was less supportive of this strategy than he was of censure.
"I don't think ... those will go anywhere," he said last week.