by Frank Holmes, reporter
After he became the only Republican to vote for either of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, Senator Mitt Romney, R-U.T., is facing backlash nationwide. At least four campaigns have begun to punish Romney for siding with the Democrats in the vote, which took place less than a week ago.
Romney announced he would vote to convict the president and remove him from office—and ban him from running for office again—because Trump committed an “egregious an assault on the Constitution.”
He never made an equally harsh condemnation of former President Barack Obama.
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Now Romney could face penalties, ranging from censure to being recalled from the U.S. Senate.
The mildest blowback comes from a Utah state GOP leader, who introduced a measure to censure Romney at the state Republican Party’s next central committee meeting on February 29.
The strongly-worded statement expresses “severe disapproval” over the impeachment vote.
“The Utah Republican Party calls on Senator Mitt Romney to in good conscience vigorously support President Trump and his conservative America First agenda or vacate his seat,” it says.
Its sponsor, Brandon Beckham of Orem, calls Romney’s decision to vote with the Democrats “sort of an embarrassment to our party.”
The motion says that Romney’s sharing anti-Trump material on Twitter under the pen name “Pierre Delecto” is proof of his “pre-impeachment bias” and explains why Romney voted to impeach “despite zero evidence.”
Romney’s vote went a long way towards “distorting (the Democratic Party’s) abuse of the Constitution’s impeachment process,” the resolution says.
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So far, only nine of 187 GOP committee members have backed the censure.
If that fails, a bill to censure Romney is making its way through the Utah state House, led by Representative Phil Lyman, R-Blanding.
But neither motion may get far, since Romney’s “friend,” Republican governor Gary Herbert, said last Friday that he opposes disciplining Mitt.
“Why would they censure him for being true to himself and true to his moral code, to his convictions?” Herbert asked. “Every time we don’t agree with somebody’s vote or their statement they make, are we going to censure them?”
There’s no doubt that Romney’s vote to remove President Trump from office was out-of-step with the majority of Utahns (53 percent), who opposed impeachment, according to a Rasmussen poll. That includes more than three-out-of-four Republicans.
Nationally, Republicans cast Romney’s vote as jealousy over losing his own presidential race and frustration that the president refused to appoint him secretary of state.
Their opposition to Romney’s impeachment vote—and now, to Sen. Romney himself—is so strong that many Republicans say they want him thrown out of their party.
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That’s led by President Donald Trump himself, who tweeted a video calling Romney, “stealthy,” “slippery,” “slick,” and a “Democrat Secret Asset.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2020
Donald Trump Jr. responded to Romney’s vote by saying Romney is “officially a member of the resistance & should be expelled from the GOP.”
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.
He’s now officially a member of the resistance & should be expelled from the @GOP.
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 5, 2020
The younger Trump added the hashtag “#Expel Mitt.”
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 5, 2020
Conservative leader Ned Ryun of American Majority Action is promoting its own efforts to remove the senator from office under the hashtag #RecallRomney.
Romney’s vote even put him at odds with his niece, Ronna McDaniel — whom Trump named chair of the Republican National Committee. She rebuffed her uncle, saying, “I, along with the @GOP, stand with President Trump.”
This is not the first time I have disagreed with Mitt, and I imagine it will not be the last.
The bottom line is President Trump did nothing wrong, and the Republican Party is more united than ever behind him.
I, along with the @GOP, stand with President Trump.
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) February 5, 2020
If Romney is expelled from the GOP, he could find a new home in at least two other parties. Utah House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, said Romney’s vote made him “happy, happy, happy.” And the United Utah Party, made up of establishment Republicans and Democrats, offered to take in Romney when he’s up for re-election in four years.
But Romney may not be in office at the end of his term, thanks to a bill introduced in the Utah state House, which would allow voters to recall a U.S. senator from office if he angers them enough.
H.B. 217 says if 25 percent of voters sign a petition to recall a senator, the measure will put on the ballot.
Gov. Herbert may have no ill-will for Romney, but the bill’s sponsor — State Rep. Tim Quinn, R-Heber City — said the citizens’ response has been “100% positive to the bill.”
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The bill could be a hard sell: Nothing in the Constitution specifically allows citizens to recall sitting U.S. senators, and none of the laws allowing voters to recall members of the U.S. House has ever been tested in court.
Romney remains generally popular in the state and has the financial resources to fight off primary challengers, come what may.
But it’s clear his vote has put him on the wrong side of voters nationwide and it could mean major fireworks if Romney continues to help the Democrats wage political war on the president, especially during an election year.
Mitt Romney’s attempt to deny Trump re-election may come at the price of his own.
Frank Holmes is a veteran journalist and an outspoken conservative that talks about the news that was in his weekly article, “On The Holmes Front.”