Some Republican legislators in Vermont are calling for the resignation of the Trump-loving leaders of the state's GOP if they can’t support removing the president from office.
Lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a joint resolution last week calling for Donald Trump to resign or be removed from office by his cabinet or Congress for his role in inciting the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capital.
The move followed Gov. Phil Scott’s demand for Trump’s removal for “fanning the flames” that led to the mob storming Congress in a failed attempt to overturn the results of the presidential election.
The VTGOP released a statement last week condemning the violence. But it did not acknowledge Trump's role in inciting it, call for him to resign or be removed, or even acknowledge his electoral loss. Party officials need to do all of these things if they claim to represent Vermont Republicans, said Rep. Scott Beck (R-St. Johnsbury).
“I have had some pointed comments at VTGOP leadership, and I have said to them, ‘If you cannot cross these bridges, I think it’s time for you to move on,'” Beck told Seven Days on Tuesday.
Beck made clear that he isn’t just calling for leadership change in party elections later this year, but that party officials, including chair Deb Billado, need to step down immediately if they can’t see fit to align themselves with the views of the vast majority of Vermont's Republican lawmakers.
“My goal right now is to get them to resign,” Beck said, “and I’m having conversations with other legislators to put together a common voice.”
Rep. Anne Donahue (R-Northfield), a stalwart conservative Republican, said she agrees with Beck and supports his efforts.
“I believe that the leadership should reflect the position of the party as a whole and if it does not, then they should resign from being that leadership,” Donahue said, adding that she plans to sign a letter that Beck plans to draft.
Party officials have told Beck that they hope to move past the discord that Trump has created within the party, but he doesn’t see how that is possible until the party leaders acknowledge his fair electoral loss and culpability in inciting an insurrection.
“That is just something that has to be addressed before anybody can move on,” Beck said.
Thursday afternoon, Billado noted that 17 elected Republicans did not support the resolution denouncing Trump. "Not everyone in any party is in lock step," she wrote. "It is not my choice to create further division."
"Tensions are high and reactions are not always appropriate and messages get misinterpreted," she added. "But the VTGOP and this country is strong and will move forward."
A number of state Republican lawmakers, including moderates such as Sen. Corey Parent (R-Franklin) and Rep. Heidi Scheuermann (R-Stowe), have distanced themselves from the state party turmoil by noting they have no involvement in VTGOP decisions.
Parent, too, was eying the party's top leader, saying, "If Deb [Billado] doesn't agree with the resolution that the legislature passed last week, there is no room in the Republican Party for people who support those actions, and she needs to resign."
Donahue said the party's positions reflect on her as a lawmaker.
“We are a part of the state party, and it’s extremely difficult for me personally to say, ‘This is what I believe, and this is what a majority of our caucus believes, but I’m not connected to the position of the state party,’” Donahue said. “That doesn’t really fly very well.”
Beck said he has not given much thought to what he’ll do if party leadership rebuffs his demands. "My hope is, my party gets its act together," Beck said. He hopes the party can return to its core values and leave the conspiracy theories and other elements of the Trump presidency behind.
If it doesn't, he said, it could be time for him to leave the party.