Sen. Mitt Romney announced Wednesday that he will vote to convict President Trump for abuse of power, one of two articles of impeachment brought by House Democrats.
Romney, the junior Republican senator from Utah who was the GOP’s presidential nominee in 2012, became the first member of his party to say he would vote to convict the president, a blow to Trump’s argument that impeachment was solely a partisan matter. The Senate is controlled by Republicans, and Trump’s exoneration in the vote, scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Wednesday, is a foregone conclusion.
Romney said he believed Trump was “guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust” by seeking to pressure a foreign government to investigate Joe Biden, a leading Democratic candidate to oppose him for reelection.
“What he did was not ‘perfect.’ No, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security interests and our fundamental values. Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine,” Romney said.
“I swore an oath before God to exercise impartial justice. I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am.”
During the Senate impeachment trial, Romney and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, were the only two Republicans to vote in favor of allowing witnesses to testify. Collins said Tuesday she intends to vote against conviction.
“I believe that attempting to corrupt an election to maintain power is about as egregious an assault on the Constitution as can be made,” Romney added. “And for that reason, it is a high crime and misdemeanor, and I have no choice under the oath that I took but to express that conclusion.”
Beth Myers, who has been one of Romney’s closest political advisers going back to his time as Massachusetts governor, told Yahoo News: “As always, I am proud of Mitt and grateful that he did the right thing.”
Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the national Republican Party, took issue with Romney, who is her uncle. She tweeted:
“This is not the first time I have disagreed with Mitt, and I imagine it will not be the last. The bottom line is President Trump did nothing wrong, and the Republican Party is more united than ever behind him. I, along with the
@GOP, stand with President Trump.”
Donald Trump Jr. also piled on Romney with a tweet:
“Mitt Romney is forever bitter that he will never be POTUS. He was too weak to beat the Democrats then so he’s joining them now. He’s now officially a member of the resistance & should be expelled from the @GOP.”
With Jon Ward in Washington, D.C.
This is a breaking story. Please check back for developments.
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