Utah Senator Mitt Romney said on Saturday that it was “very likely” he would vote in favor of hearing from witnesses in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump.
Romney made the comment after the day’s opening defense argument and also said that he wouldn’t make a final decision on whether to vote for witnesses until all the opening arguments were over.
I wonder what Mitt’s head will look like on a pike?
Romney, a conservative who has before expressed frustration with Trump, previously indicated that he would be interested in hearing testimony from former national security adviser John Bolton. He said earlier this month, “I would like to hear from John Bolton and other witnesses, but at the same time I’m comfortable with the Clinton impeachment model when we have opening arguments first and then we have a vote on whether to have witnesses.”
Democrats need four Republicans to vote with them in favor of subpoenas for witnesses or new evidence in order to extend the trial and gather new information.
There are only maybe four, realistically, who would vote in favor of calling witnesses who could testify against the President. That short list includes Romney, relative moderates Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and endangered senators up for reelection like Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado.
The politics of this could get very ugly for Collins, who is already in a tough re-election fight. Gardner, too, might want to think twice about angering Trump supporters given his precarious position.
There are, after all, perfectly legitimate constitutional questions of executive privilege when it comes to hearing from Bolton and a few others. But Romney has already decided that what Trump did was wrong.
By all appearances, the President’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) October 4, 2019
And Mitt certainly isn’t winning any friends or allies in recent months.
In recent weeks, the senator’s acts of rebellion against the commander in chief have been flagrant: from publicly confirming “Pierre Delecto” as the secret identity he used to counter Trump on Twitter to bashing Trump’s Syria policy on the Senate floor to positioning himself on the front edge of any move by GOP lawmakers to break away and either censure the president or vote to remove him from office if the House follows through with impeachment.
While that House-side inquiry has put a heat lamp on Republican senators from states where voters aren’t thrilled with the president’s actions — particularly swing-state lawmakers who are up for re-election in 2020 — Romney’s criticism of Trump hasn’t prompted those colleagues to follow him into the political no-man’s land of finding fault with both the president’s conduct and the divisiveness of impeachment.
Romney is an old-fashioned politician — you know, like from 10 years ago. Back in those old days, politicians did nuance. They liked gradualism. Romney was a horrible candidate for president in 2012, not because of what he stood for but because he was about as exciting as a church picnic. And he had a problem with fighting back against the outrageous charges made by Democrats.
This is not an age for nuance. Whether Romney can overcome his own studied moderation will be seen when he runs for re-election in 2024.