Pennsylvania’s Republican Party is reportedly examining plans to censure U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, part of a growing movement to punish Republican congressional members voting in support for impeachment of former President Donald J. Trump.
According to Associated Press reports, state GOP chairman, Lawrence Tabas, is reaching out to county chairs as part of an effort to gauge support for a censure resolution. While the move is seen as a preliminary motion, a number of county parties in the presidential battleground state are already moving to censure Toomey. The state party’s leadership met on Feb. 6 with the intention of responding to Toomey’s remarks that Trump committed “impeachable offenses” in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. After speaking with Toomey, the party decided against a censure motion, noting Toomey’s hesitancy to support impeachment.
However, in a statement issues on Feb. 13, Toomey explained his vote in support of impeaching the former president, saying Democrats made a compelling argument, and that a vote in support of impeachment was necessary.
“President Donald Trump’s defense team made several accurate observations at the impeachment trial. Many elected Democrats did want to impeach President Trump from the moment he won the 2016 election,” said Toomey. “However, these facts do not make President Trump’s conduct in response to losing the 2020 election acceptable. He began with dishonest, systematic attempts to convince supporters that he had won. His lawful, but unsuccessful, legal challenges failed due to lack of evidence. Then, he applied intense pressure on state and local officials to reverse the election outcomes in their states.”
The censure resolution comes as Pennsylvania GOP lawmakers seek additional power over the state’s courts and, by extension, the election certification process. Under a proposal put forth by Republicans legislators, dozens of whom supported overturning the state’s election results to aid former President Trump, the current system of statewide elections for judges would be replaced by judicial districts drawn by the Republican-controlled legislature. The move would likely tip the scales in favor of state Republicans, or, more effectively, lead to judges more inclined to embrace Republican election challenges.