Responding to questions from reporters about senators in quarantine, President Donald Trump appeared to give a sarcastic and snarky remark when he learned that Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) had put himself into isolation out of an abundance of caution.
Romney has not tested positive for coronavirus at this time, but did come into direct contact with Sen. Rand Paul, who tested positive for the disease, announcing so on Sunday. A reporter at the White House preluded a question about remote voting for members of Congress by discussing how four senators now were self-quarantining.
Trump wanted to know their names before answering the question. When the reporter mentioned Romney was among them, the president’s reaction seemed to be uncaring.
“Gee, that’s too bad,” he said.
The intonation of Trump’s response seemed to imply he wasn’t sad about the situation, but when the reporter followed up, asking if the president was being sarcastic in his remark, Trump said he was not.
“I think it was quite a while ago,” Trump tells ABC News when asked when he last had contact with Rand Paul, who tested positive for COVID-19.
— ABC News (@ABC) March 22, 2020
Trump and Romney have not seen eye-to-eye with one another for years now. Their relationship became even tenser in February, when Romney crossed the political aisle and voted in favor of indictment of the president during the Senate impeachment trial.
“The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the president committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a ‘high crime and misdemeanor,'” Romney said in announcing his vote at the time.
On that question, Romney answered in the affirmative: “Yes, he did.”
For Trump, Romney’s vote took away one key talking point that he had been utilizing in arguing against impeachment up until that point: that it didn’t have bipartisan backing. Romney, a Republican, changed that, joining with Democrats in calling for Trump’s removal from office.
Trump sounded supportive of the idea of remote voting, as it would allow the Senate to keep every member in attendance during critical votes to help Americans during the COVID-19 crisis. “I could certainly be in favor of it,” the commander-in-chief said on Sunday.
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