Wednesday, February 05, 2020
r Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah
Senator Mitt Romney of Utah said Wednesday that he would vote to convict President Trump’s abuse of power making him the first Republican in the United States Senate to support removing Mr. Trump from office over his bid to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rival, namely the former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Speaking slowly and at times haltingly from the Senate floor, Mr. Romney, who appeared to choke up at the beginning of his statement, said that his decision was made out of an “inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it.” He said Mr. Trump was “guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust.”
Mr. Romney said in an interview before his speech that he would vote against the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress, arguing that House Democrats had failed to exhaust their legal options for securing testimony and other evidence they had sought. But the first-term senator said that Democrats had proven their first charge, that the president had misused his office for his own personal gain.
“I believe that attempting to corrupt an election to maintain power is about as egregious an assault on the Constitution as can be made,” Mr. Romney added, appearing by turns relieved and nervous — but also determined — as he explained his decision. “And for that reason, it is a high crime and misdemeanor, and I have no choice under the oath that I took but to express that conclusion.”
Notwithstanding Mr. Romney’s position, the Senate is expected to acquit Mr. Trump of both impeachment charges in a vote later Wednesday afternoon. But the defection of Mr. Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, is a dramatic capstone on the evolution of a party that has thoroughly succumbed to the vise-grip of Mr. Trump.
Mr. Romney, who has been critical of Mr. Trump at various points since 2016, said he was acutely aware that he would suffer serious political ramifications for his decision, particularly in light of the strict loyalty the president has come to expect from elected officials of his own party. No House Republican voted to impeach Mr. Trump in December. (Representative Justin Amash, a former Republican of Michigan who fled the party over his differences with Mr. Trump, voted in favor of both articles.)
“I recognize there is going to be enormous consequences for having reached this conclusion,” Mr. Romney said. “Unimaginable” is how he described what might be in store for him.
— Mark Leibovich