Mitt Romney’s blistering response to Trump’s damning indictment

Republican US Senator Mitt Romney said that former president Donald Trump had brought an indictment upon himself for his taking classified documents and refusing to return them.

Mr Romney released a statement on Friday after news that a grand jury indicted Mr Trump for his alleged unlawful of retention of national defence information at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

Mr Trump said he must report to a court in Miami by Tuesday at 3pm ET.

“Like all Americans, Mr Trump is entitled to the presumption of innocence. The government has the burden of proving its charges beyond a reasonable doubt and securing a unanimous verdict by a South Florida jury,” Mr Romney said.

“By all appearances, the Justice Department and special counsel have exercised due care, affording Mr Trump the time and opportunity to avoid charges that would not generally have been afforded to others,” he said. “Mr Trump brought these charges upon himself by not only taking classified documents, but by refusing to simply return them when given numerous opportunities to do so.”

The 2012 Republican presidential nominee, whom Mr Trump endorsed in that election, has since emerged as one of the GOP’s most outspoken critics of the former president. Mr Romney voted to convict Mr Trump in his first impeachment trial in 2020, the only Republican Senator to do so, for attempting to withhold aid for Ukraine in exchange for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky investigating Joe Biden’s son when Mr Trump was running for re-election.

In 2021, six other Republicans joined Mr Romney to convict Mr Trump for his incitement of the January 6 riot. Mr Romney alluded to those cases in his statement.

“These allegations are serious and if proven, would be consistent with his other actions offensive to the national interest, such as withholding defensive weapons from Ukraine for political reasons and failing to defend the Capitol from violent attack and insurrection,” he said.

The statement stands in contrast to Mr Romney’s statement after a New York grand jury indicted Mr Trump in April, when Mr Romney expressed some scepticism. New York County District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office charged Mr Trump on 34 counts related to his allegedly making hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

“Even so, I believe the New York prosecutor has stretched to reach felony criminal charges in order to fit a political agenda,” Mr Romney said at the time. “No one is above the law, not even former presidents, but everyone is entitled to equal treatment under the law. The prosecutor’s overreach sets a dangerous precedent for criminalizing political opponents and damages the public’s faith in our justice system.”