Senator Ben Sasse addresses criticism of not ‘bending the knee’ to Trump as Nebraska GOP threatens censure

'The anger's always been simply about me not bending the knee to one guy,' Mr Sasse says of his state's GOP threatening to censure him

Danielle Zoellner
New York
Friday 05 February 2021 22:11 GMT
Senator Ben Sasse has defended himself as Nebraska GOP calls to censure him over Trump comments

Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska has pushed back at leaders of his state's Republican Party over their attempts to censure the congressman after he stood against Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the election results.

In a video shared on YouTube on Thursday, Mr Sasse urged members of his party to accept those who have criticised the former president in an effort to return to true conservatism within the GOP.

"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," Mr Sasse said, speaking of Mr Trump.

The Nebraska Republican Party's State Central Committee is expected to vote 13 February on a possible censure for the senator, which is essentially a public reprimand showing the party's disapproval of one of their officials.

Mr Sasse was already censured once before in 2016 after he spoke out against then-Republican candidate Mr Trump.

"I'm not going to spend any time trying to talk you out of another censure," he said in the video. "I listen to Nebraskans every day, and very few of them are as angry about life as some of the people on this committee – not all of you, but a lot. Political addicts don't represent most Nebraska conservatives."

The threats of censure for another Republican official comes as the party grapples with how to address the former president and the mark he left on the GOP.

Mr Sasse was one of the few Republicans in Congress who has openly condemned Mr Trump and his involvement in the riots that took place at the US Capitol on 6 January.

"January 6th is going to leave a scar," Mr Sasse said of the deadly riots that left five people dead, including one police officer. "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."

In past years, Mr Sasse has vocally criticised the former president, which has angered his state's Republican party. He's also faced accusations of utilising GOP resources while not supporting the party's chosen presidential candidates.

The criticism from Mr Sasse towards the then-president Trump was toned down in 2019 when he was running for reelection. This encouraged Mr Trump to even endorse the senator, stating he's done a "wonderful job" for the state of Nebraska.

Following the events that took place at the US Capitol, though, Mr Sasse has become vocal with voters about the lies Mr Trump told regarding the presidential election.

"President Trump has consistently lied by claiming that he 'won the election by a landslide,' and by promoting fanciful conspiracy theories about dozens of topics and people connected to the 3 November election," he said in January. "By 6 January, the lie had morphed into the nutty theory that Vice President Pence could violate his constitutional oath by formally declaring Trump the victor of an election he lost. "

Mr Sasse went on to state it was "widely understood" that attendees of Mr Trump's rally on 6 January included "many people who were planning to fight physically, and who were prepared to die in response to his false claims of a 'stolen election.'"

The senator has not revealed if he intends to vote to impeach Mr Trump or not. The Senate impeachment trial will start on 9 February.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in