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Thune: Trump allies partaking in 'cancel culture' by punishing senators who voted to convict

GOP Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSchumer kicks into reelection mode The Hill's Morning Report - Biden shifts on filibuster Biden allies eye two-step strategy on infrastructure 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 TrumpRomney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS McConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS US raises concerns about Iran's seriousness in nuclear talks 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.”

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As the AP notes, Thune has stood by House Republican Conference Chairwoman Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyTrump faces test of power with early endorsements Budowsky: Great for Dems: Trump dominates GOP The Hill's Morning Report - Biden's infrastructure plan triggers definition debate 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) Gaetz Ex-Rep. Katie Hill: 'Gross' for Gaetz to invoke my name House panel opens probe into Tom Reed over sexual misconduct allegations House Ethics Committee opens probe into Gaetz 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. 

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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.