Republican lawmakers on Wednesday moved to criticize Senator Mitt Romney (R., Utah) after he announced his intent to vote to convict President Trump on one article of impeachment.
“Wrong, wrong, wrong move,” Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio said of Romney’s decision. Jordan is the ranking Republican member of the House Oversight Committee and a staunch Trump ally who countered House Democrats’ impeachment drive.
Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) told CNN he was “surprised” and disappointed by the decision. The president’s son Donald Trump Jr. was harsher in his criticism.
“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,” Trump Jr. wrote on Twitter. “He’s now officially a member of the resistance & should be expelled from the GOP.”
Another group of Senate Republicans voiced their disagreement with Romney but avoided directly criticizing him while affirming his right to reach his own decision.
“He’s certainly not voting mainstream Republican, he’s voting Romney,” Senator Richard Shelby (R., Ala.) told CNN. “I wouldn’t call it much of a bipartisan [conviction].”
Republican senators John Thune of South Dakota and John Cornyn of Texas struck a conciliatory tone in their responses to Romney’s unprecedented vote.
“There is always another day and another vote and you may not have everybody on every vote, sometimes you just have to play the next game when it comes along,” Thune said. “I’m sure that members of our conference will continue to work with him and accept his point of view.”
“Everybody takes an individual oath, and I’m sure he thinks it was the right thing for him to do,” Cornyn commented. “I disagree, but I respect his right to differ.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed those sentiments when he was asked about Romney’s decision after the vote to acquit Trump on both articles was finalized.
I asked @senatemajldr if there’s room in the Republican party for someone who voted to convict President Trump. He said he was “surprised and disappointed” by Romney’s vote- but Romney continues to work with GOP on vast majority of issues pic.twitter.com/2euvyj729f
— Garrett Haake (@GarrettHaake) February 5, 2020
With his vote, Romney will become the first senator in U.S. history to convict a president from his own party on impeachment. The Utah senator was the Republican nominee for president in 2012, but lost the election to incumbent Barack Obama.
“The president did in fact pressure a foreign government to corrupt our election process,” Romney said in an interview with The Atlantic explaining his decision. “And really, corrupting an election process in a democratic republic is about as abusive and egregious an act against the Constitution—and one’s oath—that I can imagine. It’s what autocrats do.”