Mitt Romney is back. Apart from a fairly diffident op-ed in the Washington Post about Trump, Romney has been mostly MIA since he entered the Senate in 2018. But the Trump Ukraine scandal appears to be reanimating him. Will Romney lead a crusade to topple Trump and restore the old guard of the Republican party?
In a tweet on Friday, Romney rebuked Trump in no uncertain terms. According to Romney, “By all appearances, the President’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling.” In a separate tweet, he noted, “When the only American citizen President Trump singles out for China’s investigation is his political opponent in the midst of the Democratic nomination process, it strains credulity to suggest that it is anything other than politically motivated.”
Romney’s move is significant. Until now, most Republican Senators have either defended Trump, as Ron Johnson did, dismissed Trump’s remarks as unserious, as Marco Rubio did, or simply tried to remain silent about them. The only other Senator to criticize Trump was Ben Sasse, who declared, “Americans don’t look to Chinese commies for the truth.”
These remarks will hardly come as a welcome development to Trump. So far, Trump has reacted to the prospect of impeachment with palpable anger and fear. A number of commentators have speculated that Trump’s panic stems from the fear of the stain of impeachment rather than the prospect of being driven from office. After all, he knows that the Senate would never vote to convict him. But Trump’s apprehensions may actually be justified. The presumption that the Republican Senate would not turn on Trump rests on a shakier foundation than is commonly assumed.