The vote to acquit President Trump of impeachment charges will not be unanimous within his own party.
Hours before senators will decide whether to remove Trump from office on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said he will break with his party and vote to convict the president.
“I believe that the effort he took, an effort to corrupt our election, is as destructive an attack on the oath of office and on our Constitution as I can imagine,” Romney said Wednesday during an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News. “it is a high crime and misdemeanor within the meaning of the Constitution. It is not a decision I take lightly. It is the last decision I want to take. The personal and political consequences that fall on me as a result of that are going to be extraordinary. But I swore an oath before God — and I’m a religious person — that I would apply impartial justice. Applying impartial justice says what the president did was grievously wrong and I had to vote, if I was going to live with my own conscience, in a way that was consistent with that oath of office.”
“I do believe he should be removed from office,” he added. “That’s the vote that I will take.”
ROMNEY: "It's hard for me to imagine a more serious attack on the constitution & on a republic like ours than saying that a president would be able to enlist a foreign government to corrupt our elections to keep in power. That's what happens in tinhorn autocracies." pic.twitter.com/RpSdGVaoEN
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 5, 2020
Following his interview on Fox News, Romney took his argument to the Senate floor. “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,” he said. “Yes, he did.”
Sen. Mitt Romney: "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. Yes, he did." https://t.co/lnO7tfCnND pic.twitter.com/RO6YKTmtro
— ABC News (@ABC) February 5, 2020
Though Romney has a long history of criticizing Trump, the move is surprising given the degree to which the GOP, including Romney, has subjugated itself to the president’s will. One of the most prominent apologists is Romney’s niece, Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee who has vigorously defended the president in the face of the impeachment inquiry.
“This is not the first time I have disagreed with Mitt, and I imagine it will not be the last,” McDaniel tweeted Wednesday. “The bottom line is President Trump did nothing wrong, and the Republican Party is more united than ever behind him.”
While Romney bucked his own party, it doesn’t appear any Democrats will vote to acquit the president. Despite representing red states that voted for Trump in 2016, Sens. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) have all said they plan to vote to convict Trump.
Romney will become the first senator in U.S. history to vote to remove a president of his own party.
This post has been updated.