WASHINGTON — Sen. Mitt Romney announced Wednesday he is voting against party lines, saying he will convict President Donald Trump in the impeachment trial.
In December 2019, President Trump was officially charged with two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Romney said he would vote ‘guilty’ on the abuse of power, but not on the count of obstruction.
Romney said he believes Trump is guilty of the charges presented in the articles of impeachment written by the House of Representatives. Romney added that he believes the act was extreme enough to rise to the level of a high crime and misdemeanor.
Senators took an oath
Romney said the allegations made against Trump were serious, and he — along with his fellow senators — took an oath to exercise impartial judgment.
His statement took an emotional turn, with Romney stating he is a religious man. He said his religion is at the heart of who he is, and that he took an oath before God to judge the president fairly.
When the House of Representatives delivered the articles of impeachment to the Senate in January, Romney said he knew it would be one of the most difficult decisions he would have to make.
“I was right,” he said.
He said he approached the trial with impartiality, voting for more John Bolton as a witness to gain more clarity. In fact, he said he hoped Bolton’s testimony would create reasonable doubt in the trial.
The Senate presented three arguments of defense
Romney said the Senate provided three arguments in defense of President Trump: it wasn’t a statutory crime, Joe Biden’s conflict of interest in Ukraine justified the president’s actions and the decision whether to remove President Trump from office should be up to the voters.
Romney said while Biden’s actions were a conflict of interest and he should’ve recused himself, it wasn’t wrong. While Hunter Biden’s use of his father’s name to gain an advantage was “unsavory,” Romney said, it wasn’t a crime.
Romney said the things President Trump did was done because of personal feelings and political biases. Had the name “Biden” not been involved, he said, President Trump wouldn’t have done what he did.
While the argument to let voters decide whether to remove the president from office sounds appealing in a democracy, Romney said, it’s inconsistent with the constitution. It’s up to the senators to decide — which was intended by the founders to minimize the partisanship of the country in the vote.
He said voters will get their chance to make the decision when they vote to keep or remove their senators.
Guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors”
Romney said he believes President Trump’s actions rise to the level of high crime and misdemeanors because of his withholding of federal aid to an ally at war.
He said that he has often stood with President Trump in several decisions and legislation. But, he must put aside his personal feelings and political biases to make an impartial decision.
Romney acknowledged his vote may be in the minority, and it likely won’t remove the president from office. However, he said he trusts his colleagues will also vote according to their conscience rather than party lines.
Romney will hold a phone call to address voters later today.
This story is breaking and will be updated.
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