When the impeachment trial against President Trump came to an end after almost three weeks this past Wednesday afternoon nobody was surprised. The outcome had been almost certain thanks to the Republican-majority Senate. Trump was acquitted on both counts of impeachment he had been charged with. Nonetheless, the acquittal carried a caveat that has granted the Democrats a small victory, as they can claim a bi-partisan guilty vote on article 1.
Republican Senator Mitt Romney Stands Up To Trump, Votes To Impeach
On the trial’s last day, Mitt Romney, the Republican Senator from Utah, entered the chamber. Prior to Chief Justice John Roberts opening the last session, the Senators had the opportunity to justify their verdict personally. Romney did precisely that. The former Governor of Massachusetts is known for being a profoundly religious man. In his speech, he reaffirmed this fact by amplifying the oath he had given to God to act as an impartial juror during the trial. Romney stated that his belief was the core of his personality before his voice broke and he was silent from emotion for a considerable time. Romney said he had known from the start that the task of passing judgment on the president – the leader of his party – would be one of the most difficult decisions he would ever have to make.
However, Romney made his case with more than just religious beliefs. He asked the question that the president’s defense lawyers had denied in the process: were Trump’s actions a crime of a category the Founding Fathers would have thought of when they wrote the removal from office into the constitution? Romney’s answer: Answer: yes, they were.
Romney: Trump Put America Second
Romney reiterated that the president had asked a foreign government to investigate his political opponent. Moreover, he had withheld military aid for the country to put pressure on it—a country that was an ally of America that was at war. It was an attack on the right to vote, national security, and American values. “Manipulating an election to defend his post is arguably the most blatant breach of the oath I can imagine,” Romeny said. Consequently, Romney voted with the Democrats on the first charge: abuse of power. On the second, obstruction of Congress, Romney voted not guilty.
Republican Reaction To Romney’s Decision
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he was “surprised and disappointed” by Romney’s decision, but he rejected sanctions. Other Republicans, such as former presidential candidate Ted Cruz called Romney’s decision a mistake but avoided the question of whether the Senator should be excluded from their ranks.
The Romney speech was a memorable, perhaps even a historical moment. In a speech full of honesty and emotion, Mitt Romney displayed traits that the public rarely gets to witness: backbone and courage. It was a speech by a man who clearly grappled with his conscience and ultimately spoke out despite the inevitable push back and anger from his party.
Romney: Oath To God More Important Than Voting ‘With The Team’
Romney was cognizant of the consequences. During the trial, Romney said there had been calls by Republicans trying to convince him to vote “with the team.” However, Romney emphasized that his oath to God was more important than partisan decisions, and the fact that he is now persona non grata within his own party could likely cost him his Senate seat during the next Utah election. Moreover, the president’s future hostility is guaranteed.
Trump And Romney’s Checkered History
Trump’s hostility towards Romney is not a new occurrence, however. When Trump ran for the White House in 2016, Romney was considered the Republicans’ last line of defense against Trump’s populism. In a now famous speech, Romney openly warned his party and the public against Trump. Romney labeled Trump’s economic and foreign policy idea crazy and incoherent, while also saying that Trump’s temperament was unsuitable for a commander-in-chief. The highlight was his conclusion in which Romney called Trump a “phony” and a “fraud” whose promises were as worthless as a degree from Trump University.
Nevertheless, when Trump won the election and interview for his future Secretary of State, Trump invited Romney—a potential candidate for the vacancy at that point—for dinner. Different versions of what transpired have been recounted ever since. One is that Trump never planned to hire Romney but sought the public humiliation of his arch-enemy, captured in a now infamous photo of the two. Another one is that Trump’s offer was genuine, as during the transition period, he needed the moderate Republicans on his side, and Romney had been the leader on this front. The conclusion of the second story states that Trump had asked for a public apology for the speech, but Romney refused. Trump nonetheless endorsed Romney during his Senate run a year and a half later.
With his vote against the president now, however, Romney might be fortunate to receive even a “hello” from the president whenever they cross paths. In fact, given the current state of the GOP, which has fully transformed into Trump’s party, Romney might even have to explore his future career options since it is virtually certain he will not have an easy go of it within the Republican party for as long as the president’s name is Donald Trump.