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Mitt Romney: Still willing to buck his party

“Five human beings died” because of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Romney said. “And there’s no question but that the president incited the insurrection that occurred. To what degree and so forth is something we’re going to evaluate in the trial.”

Sen. Mitt Romney shown speaking during Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on January 19.
Sen. Mitt Romney shown speaking during Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on January 19.
Graeme Jennings/Pool via REUTERS

As a practical political matter, it’s now obvious that Donald Trump will NOT be convicted in a Senate impeachment trial. That being the case, I don’t have strong personal feelings about whether the Democrats should insist on going all the way through a trial.

Although it would be just to do so, and give every senator a chance (and an obligation) to go on record, most Republican senators do not view such a vote as an opportunity to take a stand on whether Trump’s incitement of the attack on the Capitol is a high enough crime or misdemeanor. They find it inconvenient, at the moment, to either endorse or condemn Trump’s last few disgraceful crimes. And, as you probably know, conviction of Trump would then lead to a second vote, awkward for many Republicans, on whether to disqualify Trump from running for president in 2024 (or ever again).

Avoiding an impeachment trial is a stance of political cowardice, and should be understood and condemned as such. Every other argument those Republican senators make should be viewed as pettifoggery in a lame attempt to excuse or distract from their cowardice. As you have probably read, there have been impeachments (although not of presidents) that occurred after people left office.

But we shouldn’t move on with condemning Republican cowardice or hypocrisy without acknowledging the exceptions, such as Sen. Mitt Romney. Romney already distinguished himself as the only Republican who voted to convict Trump in his previous impeachment trial. That vote was more special than you may realize. In the relatively short history of presidential impeachment trials, Romney’s vote to convict and remove Trump made him the only senator ever to vote to convict a president of his own party.

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Romney has already run for president before and has little likelihood of doing so again with the changes in the Trumpified Republican Party.

He’s old and he’s rich and he seems to respect old-fashioned concepts of truth and honor more than many politicians do. But I still want to call attention to his recent willingness to buck his party, including his party’s worst president ever, to tell the truth and perhaps even vote his conscience.

A story in his home state paper, the Salt Lake Tribune, gave him a chance to expand on what he thinks he’s doing with these votes and statements. Including:

“Five human beings died” because of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, Romney told the Economic Club of Chicago. “And there’s no question but that the president incited the insurrection that occurred. To what degree and so forth is something we’re going to evaluate in the trial.”

He added, “If you want to see national unity, you really have to rely on truth and justice — and justice being carried out is something which American people expect.”