One of the many criticisms from the president of the United States, during most if not all of the impeachment saga, has been the lack of bipartisan support for calls to remove him from office.
President Donald Trump’s criticism of the process lacking bipartisan backing is, and has been, technically untrue: independent Rep. Justin Amash, who used to be a Republican, also voted in favor of impeaching the commander-in-chief. But the lack of GOP support was evident in the impeachment vote, and, until Wednesday, within the Senate trial as well.
But on that day, Sen. Mitt Romney formally announced his decision to join with Democrats and vote in favor of indictment of the president in the Senate trial.
In his statement on the matter, Romney noted that one of the principal arguments against impeachment — that no formal crime had occurred — was not reasonable, CNN reported.
Sen. Mitt Romney says he knows he will receive brutal criticism for his vote: "Does anyone seriously believe that I would consent to these consequences, other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?" https://t.co/pZ46hjTyU1 pic.twitter.com/BnW9SfCXaM
— ABC News (@ABC) February 5, 2020
“The historic meaning of the words ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,’ the writings of the Founders, and my own reasoned judgment, convince me that a president can indeed commit acts against the public trust that are so egregious that, while they are not statutory crimes, they would demand removal from office,” Romney said.
He also disagreed with the notion that impeachment and removal shouldn’t occur due to an upcoming election happening later this year.
“The defense argues that the Senate should leave the impeachment decision to the voters. While that logic is appealing to our democratic instincts, it is inconsistent with the Constitution’s requirement that the Senate, not the voters, try the president,” the Republican from Utah said.
With those ideas in mind, Romney questioned whether Trump’s actions warranted impeachment and indictment. “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 misdemenor,” Romney said in his statement.
His answer? “Yes, he did.”
Romney referenced Trump’s claim that his conversations — or, his phone call — with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky was “perfect.”
“What he did was not ‘perfect,'” Romney maintained. “No, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security interests, and our fundamental values.”
Trump’s abuse of power threatened to hurt the nation in a serious way. “Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office I can imagine,” Romney said.
Backlash to Romney’s statement was swift. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, suggested that Romney’s decision warranted his immediate expulsion from the Senate, Raw Story reported — although, on what grounds he should be removed, Trump Jr. didn’t take the time to explain.
The White House itself was apparently taken aback by the announcement. While a press junket was planned for this afternoon, it was immediately canceled following Romney’s statement.
“Just as Sen. Romney finished speaking, the White House announced that reporters will now no longer be invited to the Oval Office for the pool spray that was scheduled at 2:15 pm,” CNBC reporter Eamon Javers said, per reporting from Alternet. “Reporters were already on the South Lawn and ready to go in when the WH cancelled it.”