On Wednesday afternoon, Romney announced that he would vote break from his party and vote to convict Trump.
“Corrupting an election to keep one’s self in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine,” Romney said during his floor speech.
He joined Democrats to vote to convict Trump of abuse of power but voted to acquit him on the obstruction of Congress charge.
Shortly after the vote, Trump tweeted a video that labeled Romney a “secret Democrat asset” and noted his failed 2012 presidential bid — while noting Trump’s 2016 victory.
Around midnight, Trump sent out another tweet claiming that Romney is “sanctimoniously” determined to defeat him, again noting Romney’s 2012 loss.
“Had failed presidential candidate [Mitt Romney] devoted the same energy and anger to defeating a faltering Barack Obama as he sanctimoniously does to me, he could have won the election. Read the Transcripts!”
In an interview before his vote, Romney said he was under no illusion about the political consequences of voting to break with his party and become the first senator to vote to convict a president of his party in United States history.
But in his speech announcing his decision, Romney said former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden violated no laws by benefiting from the family name and added that he doesn’t think Trump would have pushed for an investigation if the elder Biden was not running for president.
“With regards to Hunter Biden, taking excessive advantage of his father’s name is unsavory but also not a crime. Given that in neither the case of the father nor the son was any evidence presented by the President’s counsel that a crime had been committed, the President’s insistence that they be investigated by the Ukrainians is hard to explain other than as a political pursuit. There is no question in my mind that were their names not Biden, the President would never have done what he did.”
“It was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security interests, and our fundamental values,” Romney said of Trump’s actions.
After the vote, the Utah Republican Party tweeted its support of the president and said it “strongly disagrees” with Romney’s decision.
The Utah Republican Party is pleased to see President Trump completely acquitted by the United States Senate. We appreciate the service rendered to our state by Utah’s two senators. As a party, we strongly disagree with the vote cast today by Senator Romney.
— UtahGOP (@UtahGOP) February 5, 2020
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel — Romney’s niece — said she disagreed with Romney’s decision, “This is not the first time I have disagreed with Mitt, and I imagine it will not be the last.”
This is not the first time I have disagreed with Mitt, and I imagine it will not be the last.
The bottom line is President Trump did nothing wrong, and the Republican Party is more united than ever behind him.
I, along with the @GOP, stand with President Trump.
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) February 5, 2020
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) also called Romney’s vote “very courageous.”
Romney was seen as one of three potential swing votes among the Republican senators. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine.) announced that they would vote to acquit Trump, as IJR has previously reported.
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