The Corner

Politics & Policy

As Nebraska GOP Threatens Censure, Sasse Doubles Down

Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., May 5, 2020. (Andrew Harnik/Reuters)

The Nebraska Republican party is likely to vote on a resolution censuring Senator Ben Sasse for criticizing Donald Trump and blaming the former president for the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

Sasse responds to the censure resolution with a video in which he directly addresses members of the Nebraska GOP State Central Committee:


“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,” Sasse says. “It happened because the president lied to you.”

Here’s a rough transcript of Sasse’s remarks:

Hey Guys. I want to talk to the members of the state central committee.

I’ve heard from many of you in the days since the attack on the Capitol – threatening another censure…for what I said about the president’s lies after the election. As a friend and fellow Republican, I wanna shoot straight: I’m not gonna spend any time trying to talk you out of another censure. 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.

When Melissa and I first ran, back in 2014, we spoke with hundreds of thousands across this gorgeous state. And we promised to speak out when our leaders – not just Democrats, but any leader in either party – crossed the line. We pledged to put the Constitution ahead of party politics. You gave me standing ovations.

My Election Night speech – the first time I ever ran for or got elected to anything – was a simple promise that I’d “always vote my conscience, even if it might be against the stream.” You cheered.

But many of the same party officials who applauded in ’14, cussed me out in ’16 when I refused to vote for Candidate Trump; and again when I declined to serve on his reelection committee in ’19; and again when I didn’t vote for his reelection in ’20.

Now, many of you are hacked off that I condemned his lies that led to a riot.

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. But my disagreements with President Trump have never been personal – they’ve always been about my genuine affection for the constitutional order, something every American regardless of party should share.

January 6th is gonna leave a scar. 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.

It happened because the president lied to you. He lied about the election results for 60 days, despite losing 60 straight court challenges – many handed down by wonderful Trump-appointed judges.

He lied by saying that the vice president could violate his constitutional oath and just declare a new winner.

He then riled a mob that attacked the Capitol – many chanting “Hang Pence.”

If that president were a Democrat, we both know how you’d respond.

But, because he had “Republican” behind his name, you’re defending him.

Something has definitely changed over the last four years…but it’s not me:

-Personality cults aren’t conservative.

-Conspiracy theories aren’t conservative.

-Lying that an election has been stolen isn’t conservative.

-Acting like politics is a religion isn’t conservative.

I still believe every word from the campaign trail. What makes America great isn’t power politics; it’s what happens in the communities where we raise our kids.

Happily, most Nebraskans believe that too. I think that’s why Nebraskans just gave our campaign tens of thousands more votes than President Trump in our state. It’s why our campaign just set all-time vote count records in both the primary and general elections – despite being primaried last year for not being Trumpy – all-time most votes for any candidate in Nebraska history. And look at Omaha, which he lost by a lot – we won handily. Why? I think the reason’s simple: Nebraskans aren’t rage addicts. And that’s good.

You are welcome to censure me again – but let’s be clear about why: It’s because I still believe (as you used to) that politics is not about the weird worship of one dude. The party could purge Trump-skeptics, but I’d like to convince you that not only is this “civic cancer” for the nation, but it’s also terrible for our Party.

But either way, I’m gonna keep doing what I promised. We still agree on some big things – rule of law, constitutionalism, limited government, unlimited human potential, extending the American dream to more of our brothers and sisters – we can lead again … but only if our party is willing to change.

We’re gonna have to choose between conservatism and madness, between just railing about who we’re mad at, versus actually trying to persuade rising generations of Americans again. That’s where I’m focused. And I sincerely hope that many of you will join in celebrating these big, worthy causes for freedom. I know I won’t always get it right; I make a bunch of mistakes. But I’m always gonna work hard for Nebraskans and tell you the truth. Thanks for listening.



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