Cassidy says Trump's 'force wanes' and defends guilty vote after Louisiana GOP censure

Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy on Sunday stood by his vote to convict Donald Trump during the former President's second impeachment trial, defending his decision against a censure from his state's GOP and arguing that Trump's power within the larger party will weaken. Cassidy is pictured here on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021.

Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy on Sunday stood by his vote to convict Donald Trump during the former President's second impeachment trial, defending his decision against a censure from his state's GOP and arguing that Trump's power within the larger party will weaken.

"I think his force wanes. The Republican Party is more than just one person," Cassidy told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week." "The Republican Party is about ideas. ... Now the American people want those ideas but they want a leader who is accountable and a leader who they can trust. I think our leadership will be different going forward but it will still be with those ideas."

Cassidy is the latest Republican to face backlash from his home party as the national Republican Party faces its own internal conflicts in the wake of the November election and debate over how Trump's tenure and its controversial final days fit within the GOP's legacy.

The Louisiana senator was one of just seven GOP senators who joined all Senate Democrats in voting to convict Trump -- but the 57 guilty votes fell well-short of the 67 needed to convict the former President, resulting in his acquittal on the charge of inciting the January 6 insurrection.

Cassidy said he voted against Trump on Saturday because he felt the former President should be held accountable for the insurrection.

"I listened very carefully to all the arguments," he said. "It was clear that he wished the lawmakers be intimidated. And even after he knew there was violence taking place, he continued to basically sanction the mob being there and not until later did he actually ask them to leave. All of that points to a motive and a method and that is wrong, he should be held accountable."

The Louisiana Republican Party moved swiftly to censure Cassidy in a unanimous vote following the trial.

"The Executive Committee of the Republican Party of Louisiana has unanimously voted to censure Senator Bill Cassidy for his vote cast earlier today to convict former President Donald J. Trump on the impeachment charge," the state party said in a statement Saturday.

When asked about the censure, Cassidy said he was elected to "uphold an oath to support and defend the Constitution."

"I'm attempting to hold President Trump accountable and that is the trust I have from the people that elected me and I'm very confident that as time passes people will move to that position," he said.

Federal prosecutors in Washington investigating the insurrection have signaled that no one is above the law, including Trump, and have stressed that nothing is off the table when asked if they were looking at the former President's role in inciting violence.

Asked about the possibility of Trump facing criminal charges in the future, Cassidy said the GOP needs to "look forward."

"I think more importantly is how we move forward from this. If you will, criminal trials will be looking back. We need to look forward, because the ideas of our party are more important than ever, particularly in contrast to the Biden-Harris administration," he said.

CNN's Rebecca Grandahl, Kelly Mena and Dan Merica contributed to this report.

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