Republican Sen. Mitt Romney predicted on Thursday there would be ‘unimaginable’ consequences for siding with Democrats and voting to convict President Trump on one of the two articles of impeachment.
Romney made history on Wednesday, becoming the first senator to ever vote against a sitting president during a Senate impeachment trial.
‘My personal and political and team affiliation made me very much not want to convict,’ he told The New York Times’ post ‘The Daily’ on Thursday. ‘I mean, I want to be with my colleagues in the Senate. I don’t want to be the skunk at the garden part. I don’t have the disdain of Republicans across the country.’
By Thursday morning it was apparent it was too late for that – at least among Trump’s circle in Washington.
‘Had failed presidential candidate @MittRomney devoted the same energy and anger to defeating a faltering Barack Obama as he sanctimoniously does to me, he could have won the election,’ the president tweeted.
Trump then dedicated part of his address at the National Prayer Breakfast to trashing Romney, though he made no mention of the senator’s name.
‘I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong. Nor do I like people who say I pray for you when they know that’s not so. So many people have been hurt, and we can’t let that go on. I will be discussing that a little bit later at the White House,’ he said.
Trump’s Prayer Breakfast comments were also aimed at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who as a devout Catholic, has often said she prays for the president.
Romney was the lone Republican to find Trump guilty on one article of impeachment: abuse of power. He voted to acquit the president on the second charge: obstruction of Congress.
He said in his remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday that it was his faith – Romney is a devout Mormon – that led him to that decision.
‘The allegations made in the articles of impeachment are very serious. As a senator juror, I swore an oath before god to exercise impartial justice. I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am. I take an oath before god as enormously consequential. I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the president, the leader of my own party would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced,’ Romney said.
Romney, too, knew h was likely to face abuse.
‘I’m aware that there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision, and in some quarters I will be vehemently denounced. I’m sure to hear abuse from the president and his supporters,’ he said.
‘Does anyone seriously believe that I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?’ Romney mused.
Several hours later, the president went after Romney using his name.
Trump gave a shout-out to Sen. Mike Lee, as he praised Republican lawmakers from a podium in the East Room for having his back during the months-long impeachment process.
Lee, like Romney, represents Utah.
The president asked Lee to deliver a message to Utah voters.
‘Tell them I’m sorry about Mitt Romney,’ Trump said.
‘We can say, by far, Mike Lee is the most popular senator in the state,’ Trump added.
And it wasn’t just the president showing his displeasure.
In the White House audience, Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican and top Trump defender, sported a pin that read: ‘Quit. Mitt.’