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Romney’s decision on impeachment is a blow for honesty and principle

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.

Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by BK Anderson on 02/05/2020 - 02:58 pm.

    Well, even if UT is not exactly the greatest hotbed of Trumpism (Mormons are apparently more serious about amoral/immoral national leaders than Christian Evangelicals), this is actually a time where one can use the phrase Profile in Courage without complete irony.

    Romney ran a despicable campaign of lies against Obama, who correctly characterized Mitt as a “bullsh*tter”. But that appalling campaign of deception is now light years behind the Grand Pathological Wizard, Donald J Trump, so much so that Romney can now present himself as a “virtuous” Repub.

    I am not sure that the loss of this (deeply desired) Trumpite talking point is all that meaningless, though, Mr. Black. I think the Gravedigger of Democracy McConnell and the horrendous scoundrel Trump himself were banking on Repub unanimity, having co-opted and bought off the two Repub ladies, Murkowski and the hapless Collins. Trump will go absolutely ballistic over this “betrayal” by Romney, I predict, as will our local slate of conservative commenters. Twitter better prepare for a melt down.

    The nation now turns its eyes to West Virginia’s Manchin, who was desperately talking censure a couple days ago. He can be forgiven for collapsing in the face of the pressure, but his vote will be interesting.

  2. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/05/2020 - 03:01 pm.

    I don’t think this vote will hurt Romney much, if at all. He is not up for re-election until 2024, and that is plenty of time for the dust to settle.

    He also has a very safe seat in Utah. I doubt the Trump-cult is strong enough there to exact any real revenge.

  3. Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 02/05/2020 - 03:02 pm.

    The fact that the Iowa vote is still unresolved, and the liberal/neoliberal media seem not to care much about what really went wrong, about who is behind the app, points to the Democratic Party in chaos, so methinks you won’t be able to blame it on the Electoral College, though I would expect to hear four more years of RussiaRussiaRussia.

    • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 02/06/2020 - 12:16 pm.

      Who needs Russians, when in Iowa you had Trump supporters jamming the phone lines to Democratic headquarters Monday night, so that no one could report caucus figures?

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/06/2020 - 05:30 pm.

      No one disputes that Russia interfered in the last election, not even Trump. I am not sure why you keep complaining about something that is true.

      The same goes for the electoral college. Clinton received several million more votes than Trump, but lost because we have an antiquated, racist system where some votes count more than others.

  4. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/05/2020 - 07:17 pm.

    Hearing witnesses like Bolton would not have made a difference in impeachment, but it could mean a lot for the next election.

  5. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 02/05/2020 - 07:30 pm.

    So it turns out that the Dems‘ push to impeach Trump for trying to sink Biden actually sunk Biden. (See Iowa) Brilliant.

  6. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/06/2020 - 09:25 am.

    Only 1 Republican with the cajones to call out the bad behavior for what it is. Sad day for America.

    • Submitted by BK Anderson on 02/07/2020 - 09:38 am.

      It becomes even more egregious when one considers that 14[!] of today’s sitting Repub senators voted (either as senators or Congressmen) to remove Clinton from office during the last impeachment. (For “obstruction of justice”, the very charge Mueller investigated and from which he pointedly noted he could not absolve Trump.)

      As a party, Repubs are morally and intellectually bankrupt. Ditto the conservative movement.

  7. Submitted by Linda Hildebrant on 02/07/2020 - 02:26 pm.

    Eric, When I read the headline, I was completely confused. I expected to read a reaction from the right to explain why honesty and integrity are anti- honesty and principle if that honest and principled action is directed against the president. (Who of course as we all know, has automatic immunity against all actions that he and his posse disagree with.) Strike a blow is usually followed by to — and most often used to indicate an adverse action. Senator Romney’s vote was a clear boost or boon for honesty and principle. Why use such a confusing headline?

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