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Payback: Republicans who backed Trump impeachment face rising rebuke, including censure

South Carolina GOP votes to censure Rep. Tom Rice after he voted for impeachment; others feel similar pressure.

Updated: February 1, 2021 - 6:13pm

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Republicans who have supported Donald Trump's impeachment from South Dakota to South Carolina are getting a painful reminder of just how powerful the former president remains within the Republican Party ranks.

Rep. Tom Rice was the latest to feel the wrath of Trump supporters when the South Carolina state GOP voted to censure him this weekend for his vote two weeks ago supporting the House Democrats impeachment article.

"Trying to impeach a president, with a week left in his term, is never legitimate and is nothing more than a political kick on the way out the door,"  state GOP Chairman Drew McKissick said after Saturday's vote. "Congressman Rice's vote unfortunately played right into the Democrats' game, and the people in his district, and ultimately our State Executive Committee, wanted him to know they wholeheartedly disagree with his decision." 

Rice has said he knows his vote could cost him the seat he has held since 2013, but was unbowed after Saturday's vote, saying he "will never cower before any master, save my God."

Rice is hardly alone. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., traveled all the way to Wyoming last week to rally against Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, after she was the highest ranking Republican to vote for Trump's impeachment.

"Defeat Liz Cheney in this upcoming election,” Gaetz argued, “and Wyoming will bring Washington to its knees."

Anthony Bouchard, a Wyoming state senator who is launching a primary challenge to Cheney, said he's been inundated with support. "I believe that her impeachment vote revealed who she has allegiance to, and I don't think the voters will forget it any time soon," Bouchard told CNN.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., another of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, said Sunday he has been shunned by family and friends and told he was "possessed by the devil” since his vote.

“Look it’s really difficult. I mean, all of a sudden imagine everybody that supported you, or so it seems that way, your friends, your family, has turned against you. They think you're selling out,” the Illinois congressman told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Even Republicans who haven't voted for Trump's impeachment but have challenged his assertion there was widespread voter fraud last November are feeling the wrath.

A private Facebook group called “Primary John Thune in 2022” has attracted over 3,000 members, according to The Associated Press.