By Nathan Ham
North Carolina Senator and former U.S. Representative of the Fifth District, Richard Burr, voted to convict former President Donald Trump. He was one of just seven Republican Senators that were willing to vote for impeachment.
Now, even as he has announced he will not seek re-election in 2022, the North Carolina Republican Party is taking a vote on Monday to decide whether to censure the long-time politician. Michael Whatley, the Chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, released a statement about Burr’s vote on Saturday, saying “North Carolina Republicans sent Senator Burr to the United States Senate to uphold the Constitution and his vote today to convict in a trial that he declared unconstitutional is shocking and disappointing.”
On Saturday, the Senate voted 57-43 to convict Donald Trump, however that fell short of the needed threshold to find him guilty by 10 votes.
Sen. Burr released his own statement as to why he voted in favor of convicting the former president:
“January 6th was a grim day in our nation’s history. The attack on the U.S. Capitol was an attempt to undermine our democratic institutions and overrule the will of the American people through violence, intimidation, and force.
Seven lives were tragically lost as a result of that day. Law enforcement officers, outnumbered and overwhelmed, sustained debilitating injuries as they bravely defended Congress against an angry mob. We now know that lawmakers and congressional staff came dangerously close to crossing paths with the rioters searching for them and wishing them harm.
When this process started, I believed that it was unconstitutional to impeach a president who was no longer in office. I still believe that to be the case. However, the Senate is an institution based on precedent, and given that the majority in the Senate voted to proceed with this trial, the question of constitutionality is now established precedent. As an impartial juror, my role is now to determine whether House managers have sufficiently made the case for the article of impeachment against President Trump.
I have listened to the arguments presented by both sides and considered the facts. The facts are clear.
The President promoted unfounded conspiracy theories to cast doubt on the integrity of a free and fair election because he did not like the results. As Congress met to certify the election results, the President directed his supporters to go to the Capitol to disrupt the lawful proceedings required by the Constitution. When the crowd became violent, the President used his office to first inflame the situation instead of immediately calling for an end to the assault.
As I said on January 6th, the President bears responsibility for these tragic events. The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection against a coequal branch of government and that the charge rises to the level of high Crimes and Misdemeanors. Therefore, I have voted to convict.
I do not make this decision lightly, but I believe it is necessary.
By what he did and by what he did not do, President Trump violated his oath of office to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.
My hope is that with today’s vote America can begin to move forward and focus on the critical issues facing our country today.”
Sen. Burr, 65, was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, and moved to Winston-Salem with his family early on in his childhood. Burr stayed in Winston-Salem through his college years, graduating from Wake Forest University where he played defensive back for the Demon Deacons football team and was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. Following graduation, he worked as a sales manager for Carswell Distributing Company which specialized in lawn equipment.
Burr’s first entry into the political field came in 1992 when he attempted a run for the United States House of Representatives 5th District. The district has changed over time but has always included Ashe, Alleghany, Watauga, Wilkes and Caldwell counties. In addition to those four counties, the current 5th District includes Alexander County, Burke County, Cleveland County, Gaston County, the eastern half of Rutherford County and a small portion in the northwestern corner of Catawba County. The district used to include Avery County, Forsyth County, Stokes County, Surry County and Yadkin County.
He lost to Democratic incumbent Stephen L. Neal in his first attempt but ended up winning the seat two years later when Neal did not seek re-election. Burr remained the 5th District Representative for five consecutive terms until running for the United States Senate in 2004 after the departure of Senator John Edwards. He defeated A.P. “Sandy” Sands in 1994, Neil Grist Cashion Jr. in 1996 and Mike Robinson in 1998. In 2000, Burr ran unopposed and in 2002 he defeated David Crawford. Burr defeated Democrat Erskine Bowles in the 2004 U.S. Senate race and current U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx succeeded Burr in the House of Representatives for the 5th District. In 2010, Burr defeated Elaine Marshall and in 2016 Burr retained his seat with a victory over Deborah Ross. When Burr’s Senate term expires in 2022, he will have served a total of 28 years in Congress.
The last year has been a tough one for Sen. Burr. Before having to deal with the backlash from his own party after his impeachment vote, Burr dealt with an FBI probe into insider trading allegations in the summer of 2020 after he sold off approximately $1.7 million in stocks in travel companies just before the COVID-19 pandemic began to create a devastating financial crisis for hotels, airlines and other travel entities. From 2015 to 2020, Burr served as the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He resigned from that post on May 14 due to the allegations. Burr was eventually cleared by the FBI and the Department of Justice in January 2021.
Burr has been married to Brooke Fauth Burr, a real estate agent, since 1984, and the couple has two sons, Tyler and William.