Utah Senator Mitt Romney’s vote to impeach former President Donald Trump could come back to haunt him if a current petition continues to grow. The petition calls for the senator’s censure after he “embarrassed the people of Utah.”
Though Republican Party leaders in Utah have not endorsed the petition, the effort continues to build support. The text emphasizes, “Senator Willard Mitt Romney has condoned false and misleading statements that have led the 117th Congress of the United States to further conduct an illegal and unconstitutional 2nd Impeachment proceeding against President Donald J. Trump.” It further notes Senator Romney failed to “represent the average conservative Utah voter.”
The petition also highlights Utah’s support of the former president. In the 2020 election, Trump received over 58 percent of the presidential vote. Yet Senator Romney supported both of Trump’s impeachment proceedings, despite his acquittal in each case, joining with Democrat opposition.
Other outlets have previous noted Senator Romney was also one of only five Republican Senators to support hearing witnesses during the second impeachment trial. The plan to call witnesses was later ended.
Romney also served as one of six Republican Senators to approve the constitutionality of the second impeachment trial. In a statement, he wrote, “After careful consideration of the respective counsels’ arguments, I have concluded that President Trump is guilty of the charge made by the House of Representatives.”
Romney’s loathing for Trump has been well-documented ever since the former president stepped into politics. During the 2016 presidential primaries, the twice-failed presidential candidate even stated, “Imagine your children and your grandchildren acting the way he does,” urging primary voters to choose anyone but Trump.
Senator Romney’s attacks certainly appear more personal than based on any political position. But it’s hard to know for certain. Though he has previously noted he has no plans to run for president again, it appears he seeks to become the anti-Trump option for the Republican Party in the days ahead.
Romney knew well in advance of the second impeachment trial that his vote would not make the difference in whether Trump would be acquitted. Instead, his vote served as a protest, but why? Is it simply to shame Trump, to distance himself for a future political campaign, a personal vendetta, or some kind of political payback to a certain donor base?
This last option may be the most likely. Romney is too smart to attack Trump solely for personal reasons. As far back as 2012, hedge fund manager Paul Singer donated $1 million to a super PAC backing Romney for president, yet remains opposed to Trump. And by “opposed,” we mean he also donated $2.5 million to the Our Principles PAC to stop Trump from winning the GOP’s 2016 nomination.
As with many curious votes by Senators, the best answer is usually found by following the money. In Romney’s case, he’s likely following the lead from a significant segment of his donor base, regardless of what Utah or American voters think.