Sen. Mitt Romney stunned the political world on Wednesday when he broke with Senate Republicans announcing he would vote to remove President Donald Trump from office.
Romney is the first U.S. Senator in history to vote to convict a president from the same political party in an impeachment trial.
“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,” said Romney, who visibly choked up several times during his speech on Wednesday afternoon.
President Trump was impeached by Democrats in the House of Representatives who said he withheld military aid to Ukraine in order to pressure the government of that country into launching an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden.
“The president asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival. The president withheld vital military funds from that government. The president delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders. The president's purpose was personal and political. Accordingly, the president is guilt appalling abuse of public trust,” said Romney.
“There is no question in my mind that were their names not Biden, the President would not have done what he did,” Romney continued.
Romney is the only Republican in Congress to break with his party on impeachment, but he will only vote to impeach Trump on the abuse of power, but not on the charge he obstructed Congress.
"Corrupting an election to remain in power is something that happens in tinhorn democracies, not the United States," said Romney in a phone call with reporters after his floor speech.
Romney said he came to his decision on Thursday after the conclusion of the Q&A portion of the trial.
To say that Utah GOP House members were shocked when UtahPolicy.com told them that Romney was voting to convict Trump is, well, an understatement. “Holy cow,” said one. “I can’t believe it, really?” another.
More than a few opined that this means Romney will not be running for re-elecion in 2024, the end of this first term.
And believe it or not, it appears that the Republican nomination for 2024 seems about to begin.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, told UtahPolicy.com that he spoke personally with Romney Wednesday morning by telephone.
“It was a personal call,” said Wilson, who when first asked about Romney’s vote seemed at a loss for words.
“I didn’t ask him how was going to vote today; he didn’t tell me,” said Wilson.
Basically, Wilson said he wanted Romney to know all that Trump had done for Utah. And Romney agreed with what Wilson was saying — that the president had been good to GOP-dominated Utah.
Romney went through his decision-making process with Wilson, and said it was coming after a lot of thought and consideration.
However, the very fact that Wilson was calling Romney to talk about what Trump has done for the state — like reducing the size of Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase/Escalante and such — indicates that national Republicans and perhaps the White House were seeking to “educate” Romney on what Trump had done for the state.
And maybe by talking about Trump and Utah sending a subtle message that Utah won’t be getting such considerations for the next nine months, or the next four years should Trump win another term in November.
Romney fully expects members of his own party to go to war with him over his decision to break ranks.
“I am aware that there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision, and in some quarters, I will be vehemently denounced. I am sure to hear abuse from the President and his supporters. Does anyone seriously believe I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?”
Watch Romney's remarks on the Senate floor below: