WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican U.S. Senator Mitt Romney on Wednesday issued a scathing criticism of Donald Trump as he broke with his party and said he would vote to convict the U.S. president for abuse of power in his impeachment trial.
U.S. Senator Mitt Romney announces his intention to vote to convict U.S. president Donald Trump for abuse of power during Senate debate ahead of the resumption and final vote in the Trump impeachment trial in this frame grab from video shot in the Senate Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., February 5, 2020. U.S. Senate TV/Handout via Reuters
With the Republican-controlled Senate nearing a vote that almost certainly will lead to Trump’s acquittal, Romney is the only Republican in the chamber to advocate removing him from power for pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to face Trump in the Nov. 3 election.
“Corrupting an election to keep one’s self in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine,” Romney said in a speech on the Senate floor.
Romney, a moderate who represents Utah in the Senate, had sided with Democrats in calling for more witness testimony in Trump’s impeachment trial, a move Republicans blocked.
While he is merely a freshman in the Senate, Romney arrived in 2019 as an elder statesman, having served previously as the governor of Massachusetts and in 2012 as the Republican Party’s unsuccessful presidential nominee.
Many Democrats, and some Republicans, had hoped that Romney might spearhead a drive for a Senate conviction of Trump. Instead, Romney repeatedly said he would quietly weigh the evidence before deciding how he would vote at the end of the trial.
At the start of his floor speech, Romney had to pause as he appeared to be choking back tears when he noted that as a Mormon, “I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am.”
Romney’s speech outlining his denunciation of Trump’s actions came less than two hours before the Senate was poised to vote on whether to convict Trump on two impeachment charges: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
“The president is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust,” Romney declared.
Trump has a track record of going after politicians who criticize him and some Republican office-holders have been careful to toe the Trump line or else face a Trump-backed primary opponent.
In his speech, Romney predicted that his position on impeachment could cause him to be “vehemently denounced.”
Nonetheless, referring to Trump’s contention that he has conducted himself in a “perfect” manner, Romney said, “What he did was not perfect. No, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security and our fundamental values.”
Reporting by Lisa Lambert, Richard Cowan and David Morgan; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Paul Simao
Source : Denver Post