Republicans who backed the push to impeach former President Donald Trump now face backlash from their constituents as the issue continues to divide the party – and threatens to loom large in primary races that are still years away.
Freshman Rep. Peter Meijer, R-Mich., as well as more established members of the Republican Party like Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., are defending themselves as voters voice their displeasure.
Republican groups in three Nebraska counties have voted to censure Sasse for attacking Trump’s unsuccessful efforts to overturn the election results and for claiming Trump helped incite the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
FILE – In this Jan. 19, 2021 file photo, Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., speaks on Capitol Hill, in Washington. (Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times via AP, Pool File)
Robert Anthony, a Sarpy County resident, voted for censure.
“Sasse says he’s just here to defend the Constitution, but Sarpy Republicans feel like people are trampling on the Constitution all the time,” Anthony told the Omaha World-Herald.
Sasse, undeterred by the threat, defended himself in a video that was released Thursday and addressed to members of the Republican State Central Committee. The committee will vote Feb. 13 on whether to censure him.
“You are welcome to censure me again,” Sasse says in the video, “but let’s be clear about why this is happening. It’s because I still believe, as you used to, that politics isn’t about the weird worship of one dude.”
Cheney also faced censure from Republican groups in her state, including the Wyoming state Republican Party, but survived a vote in Washington, D.C., to strip her of her congressional leadership role 145-61.
“We will not forget what happened on Jan. 6 and that the single greatest threat to our republic is a president who would put his own self-interest above the Constitution, above the national interest,” Cheney told “Fox News Sunday.”
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wy., attends a ceremony memorializing U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, as an urn with his cremated remains lies in honor on a black-draped table at the center of the Capitol Rotunda, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, in Washington. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool)
Her 2022 primary challenger, Wyoming state lawmaker Anthony Bouchard, told “Ingraham Angle” that Cheney is “not there to vote her conscience.”
“She’s there to vote for the people of Wyoming. What we’ve had is a full-on attack on conservatives … we had a man that was the president that was fighting for us, and what he got out of this was an ice pick in the back from 10 people,” Bouchard said, referring to the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump.
“Going to Washington to just make deals, what good is that going to do? We need fighters,” Bouchard said.
Meanwhile, Meijer, who arrived in Washington, D.C., just a few weeks ago, contended with unhappy constituents during a virtual town hall on Wednesday.
“What we witnessed at the Capitol – the attempted insurrection, the involvement of a sitting American president propagating the falsehoods that led up to that – required a significant response,” he said during his first town hall, a virtual event that 400-plus people watched on Zoom or Facebook.
In this Oct. 14, 2020 file photo, then-Michigan’s 3rd District Congressional Republican candidate Peter Meijer speaks at a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, file)
Two constituents who asked questions said they were deeply disappointed with Meijer, a 33-year-old Iraq War veteran who represents the 3rd District in western Michigan.
“Why aren’t you doing what your constituents wanted you to do?” said Cindy Witke. “I went against people who said not to vote for you because I believed in you. I’ve lost that belief.”
Nancy Eardley accused Meijer, the only first-term legislator to back impeachment on Jan. 13, of betraying the district within two weeks of taking office.
“I don’t know that there’s really much you can say that will ever change my mind and not work toward primarying you out after two years,” she said, claiming no court looked at evidence of election fraud.
Not all of the response to Meijer’s vote was negative. One participant, Kim Reeder, thanked Meijer for his vote.
“I didn’t vote for you, but right now I’m sure glad you’re my representative,” she said.
The Associated Press and Fox News’ Caitlin McFall and Brie Stimson contributed to this report.