York County GOP censures Sen. Pat Toomey over impeachment

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

The York County Republican Committee formally censured Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey for breaking with the party in January and voting in support of the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.

But the local GOP's gripes with Toomey have been building up for several years, committee Chair Jeff Piccola said Monday.

"There's been a lot of frustration with Mr. Toomey since President Trump was first elected," Piccola said. "He was, at best, antagonistic toward the president on a lot of things over the course of four years and really never, in any true sense, came to his defense."

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The censure vote Saturday morning occurred before the U.S. Senate voted on whether to convict Trump on charges of inciting an insurrection Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol, Piccola said.

Toomey and six other Republican senators — Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Mitt Romney of Utah and Richard Burr of North Carolina — joined the 50 Democratic senators who voted to convict the former president Saturday.

Trump was acquitted in a 57-43 vote. An impeachment conviction requires a two-thirds majority.

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., leaves the chamber after taking an oath and voting on how to proceed on the impeachment against former President Donald Trump, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Burr and Cassidy have faced backlash from their state parties over their votes.

Piccola said Toomey sided with Democrats throughout Trump's presidency and that it was "ludicrous" to impeach the former president and hold a trial after Trump left office.

Toomey's office declined to comment on the censure vote Monday, instead directing The York Dispatch to the senator's Saturday statement about his vote to convict Trump at the impeachment trial.

In the statement, Toomey said Trump's attorneys made some accurate points in their presentation about double standards regarding political rhetoric and the violent riots that took place last summer, but that this didn't excuse Trump's statements following the Nov. 3 election and his refusal to concede to President Joe Biden.

"As a result of President Trump’s actions, for the first time in American history, the transfer of presidential power was not peaceful. ... His betrayal of the Constitution and his oath of office required conviction," Toomey said.

Toomey announced in October that he will not seek reelection in 2022.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is running for the Democratic nomination to fill the seat. No Republicans have announced plans to run for the seat yet.

Piccola said he's focused on winning this year's judicial elections and doesn't want to speculate about who else will run in the Senate race.