BY: MICHELLE STODDART, ABC NEWS
(WASHINGTON) — The Utah Republican Party released a statement Tuesday accepting the opposite votes cast by Sens. Mitt Romney and Mike Lee at last week’s impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump, unlike other GOP state parties that have censured fellow Republicans.
Romney voted to convict Trump, as he did in his first impeachment, while Lee voted not guilty.
“Our senators have both been criticized for their vote. The differences between our own Utah Republicans showcase a diversity of thought, in contrast to the danger of a party fixated on ‘unanimity of thought,'” the statement said. “There is power in our differences as a political party, and we look forward to each senator explaining their votes to the people of Utah.”
The statement called disagreement in the party “natural and healthy” based on principles. It also stressed that they did not want to look toward the past or be “punitive,” and instead hoped to be optimistic and forward-looking.
Romney is one of few Republicans senators who has publicly criticized Trump and became a frequent Trump target. After Saturday’s vote, Donald Trump, Jr. took to Twitter to say Romney should be expelled from the party.
Many of the seven GOP senators who voted that the trial was constitutional or to convict Trump were treated similar to the way Utah’s GOP responded.
Retiring Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., also faced backlash from the state party, being censured by the North Carolina GOP Monday. The state’s party chairman called Burr’s vote “shocking and disappointing.”
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., who flipped his vote about the trial’s constitutionality and later voted to convict, also faced criticism from the Louisiana GOP. The state party said they were “profoundly disappointed” by Cassidy’s vote that the trial was constitutional. However, Cassidy is more insulated from political repercussions as he does not face an election until 2027.
Sen. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., faced criticism from the Wyoming GOP, who called her vote in favor of impeachment a “true travesty,” and was unanimously censured by her state’s GOP party.
Cheney is also already facing a primary challenger, who call her “out-of-touch” with Wyoming for her impeachment vote.
ABC News’ Meg Cunningham and Kendall Karson contributed to this report.
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