Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska stood firm against leaders of his state’s Republican Party on Thursday after they advanced a censure resolution against him for decrying efforts to overturn the election results and then-President Donald Trump’s involvement in the US Capitol riot.
In a video addressing members of the Nebraska GOP State Central Committee, Sasse urged the party to accept critics of the former President and remain true to conservatism as the party’s future.
“Let’s be clear: The anger in this state party has never been about me violating principle or abandoning conservative policy – I’m one of the most conservative voters in the Senate – the anger’s always been simply about me not bending the knee to one guy,” Sasse said.
Sasse’s comments come as the Republican Party at large grapples with warring factions at odds over whether to continue the party in Trump’s likeness or forge a new path veering from the former President’s legacy.
“January 6th is going to leave a scar,” Sasse said, referencing the date of the violent insurrection at the US Capitol, where rioters encouraged by Trump sought to overturn the results of the election. “For 220 years, one of the most beautiful things about America has been our peaceful transfer of power. But what Americans saw three weeks ago was ugly, shameful mob violence to disrupt a constitutionally mandated meeting of Congress to affirm that peaceful transfer of power.”
CNN has reached out to the Nebraska GOP for comment.
The resolution, posted by News Channel Nebraska Central, finds that Sasse “warrants and shall incur the penalty of CENSURE” to be imposed by the party on February 13. The state party censured Sasse in 2016 for not sufficiently supporting Trump, according to the senator’s office.
Taylor Sliva, Sasse campaign spokesman, said Thursday night that the committee hadn’t shared the resolution with them but that they had seen it in News Channel Nebraska Central.
“You are welcome to censure me again, 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,” Sasse said in the video. “The party could purge Trump skeptics, but I’d like to convince you that not only is this ‘civic cancer’ for the nation, it’s also terrible for our party.”
Sasse has been a vocal critic of the former President’s claims casting doubt on the election results’ veracity. In December, Sasse wrote on Facebook that he had been urging his Republican colleagues to “reject” objecting to the certification process of the Electoral College and then-President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, adding that talk of objecting to the process is a “dangerous ploy.”
“The president and his allies are playing with fire. They have been asking – first the courts, then state legislatures, now the Congress – to overturn the results of a presidential election,” Sasse said at the time. “They have unsuccessfully called on judges and are now calling on federal officeholders to invalidate millions and millions of votes. If you make big claims, you had better have the evidence. But the president doesn’t and neither do the institutional arsonist members of Congress who will object to the Electoral College vote.”
Sasse’s intra-state clash comes as the national Republican Party faces its own internal conflicts. On Wednesday, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a lifelong ideological conservative, fought off a challenge to her leadership post from members of her own party after she voted to impeach Trump.
At the same time, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, a conspiracy theorist who thinks the GOP’s problem is that it lost the presidential election too gracefully, got a pass from Republican colleagues despite earlier promoting a slew of violent views and conspiracy theories. The full Democratic-led House voted to strip Greene of her committee assignments Thursday.
CNN’s Michael Warren, Stephen Collinson, Morgan Rimmer and Rachel Janfaza contributed to this report.