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Mitch McConnell ally says punishing senators who voted to convict Trump pushes 'cancel culture agenda'

ONE of Senator Mitch McConnell's top ally said the punishment of Republican lawmakers who voted to convict the president is akin to engaging in "cancel culture."

Senator John Thune of South Dakota said "there was a strong case made" about Trump's actions in inciting violence during the January 6 failed coup attempt on the Capitol.

"People could come to different conclusions," Thune said. "If we’re going to criticize the media and the left for cancel culture, we can’t be doing that ourselves."

The statement from Thune, the Senate Minority Whip, are some of the most high-profile comments made about the internal shakeup in the GOP in choosing Trump over party.

Trump this week wrote a letter blasting McConnell for being "a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack."

He said "if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again."

Thune's comments come as Republican parties of all levels across the country continue to decide if they should take action against their Republican Senators who voted to convict Trump.

In one instance, North Carolina Senator Richard Burr was censured by the state's GOP party.

"The NCGOP agrees with the strong majority of Republicans in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate that the Democrat-led attempt to impeach a former President lies outside the United States Constitution," the group said on Monday.

In Pennsylvania, Senator Pat Toomey also faces a potential censure by local parties in the state, after having already been censored by the Westmoreland County GOP and the Washington County Republican Party.

"We did not send him there to vote his conscience," Washington County GOP Chair Dave Ball said. "We did not send him there to do the right thing or whatever he said he's doing. We sent him there to represent us."

Burr was the only one of the targeted GOP senators to fight back against the hate.

"It is truly a sad day for North Carolina Republicans," Burr said. "My party’s leadership has chosen loyalty to one man over the core principles of the Republican Party and the founders of our great nation."

In Trump's statement, he also vowed to avenge himself by fighting against those who voted to convict him.

"[W]here necessary and appropriate, I will back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great again and our policy of America first," he wrote.

On Thursday, Thune said the party should be looking at the overall picture in trying to win more seats.

"At the grassroots level, there’s a lot of people who want to see Trump-like candidates," Thune said. "But I think we’re going to be looking for candidates that are electable."

GOP candidates "who don’t go off and talk about conspiracies and that sort of thing" will gain his support, Thune said.

Those close to the president said his comments against the Senate Minority Leader come after McConnell wrote an op-ed against Trump.

"Jan. 6 was a shameful day. A mob bloodied law enforcement and besieged the first branch of government. American citizens tried to use terrorism to stop a democratic proceeding they disliked," McConnell said. 

"There is no question former President Trump bears moral responsibility. His supporters stormed the Capitol because of the unhinged falsehoods he shouted into the world’s largest megaphone," he added. "His behavior during and after the chaos was also unconscionable, from attacking Vice President Mike Pence during the riot to praising the criminals after it ended."

More to follow…

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