Sen. Mitt Romney announced today that he will vote to convict President Donald Trump on the first impeachment article (abusing his power to pressure Ukraine President Zelenskiy into investigating the Bidens), but to acquit on the second (obstruction of Congress) on the grounds that the Congress did not exhaust all of the options it had to investigate Trump’s wrongdoing.
Good for Romney.
It won’t change the ultimate result, of course. Not even close. But it’s a blow in favor of honesty and principle. I don’t know whether it will cost Romney his Senate seat, but he doesn’t exactly need the gig.
If, as seems likely, he is the only Republican to break ranks, Romney will have secured a proper mention in the history of this sad tale. And, although this strikes me as deeply unimportant, it will deprive Republicans of a stupid talking point.
Republicans were hoping to get some Democrats to vote with them, so they could declare the verdict to be “bipartisan.” As I said, it’s just a stupid talking point but as of now, the votes to convict, at least on one count, will be technically “bipartisan.” Republicans were hoping for a solid red vote to acquit on all charges, and to pick up a couple of Democrats to vote to acquit, so they could dismiss the impeachment as purely partisan and celebrate the acquittal as bipartisan.
In addition, Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat and one of red-state moderates Republicans hoped they might get to vote to acquit Trump, announced he will vote to convict. So the whole “partisan” talking point took another hit. Not a big deal.
None of this is a big deal. Even the slightly bigger deal of the failure of the Senate to hear witnesses (which would have required just 51 votes) struck me as overrated since the real threshold, the two-thirds vote to convict and remove Trump, was never going to happen.
We’ll soon know who else may break partisan ranks, but, in my book, it’s all in the no-big-deal category. Trump will serve his full term and, barring foreign interference, the Electoral College will decide the big question a few months from now.