DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (AP) — Utah Sen. Mitt Romney voted to convict President Donald Trump, the only Republican to break ranks during the Senate’s impeachment trial and favor removing Trump from office.
A majority of senators expressed unease with Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine that resulted in the two articles of impeachment. But the final tallies — 52-48 favoring acquittal of abuse of power, 53-47 of obstruction of Congress’ investigation — fell far short. Two-thirds “guilty” votes would have been needed to reach the Constitution’s bar of high crimes and misdemeanors to convict and remove Trump from office.
Romney announced his decision during an eight-minute speech on the Senate floor, as the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee became the first senator to bolt from a strict party-line divide over whether to oust Trump. The two men have had a tumultuous relationship since Trump began his successful presidential campaign.
Romney said he believes Trump was guilty of “an appalling abuse of public trust” when he pressured Ukraine’s leaders to investigate political foe Joe Biden.
Romney said as a “profoundly religious” person, he was bound by the oath senators took to administer impartial justice. “My faith is at the heart of who I am,” he said. After he made that remark, he paused for about 11 seconds, seemingly struggling with his emotions.
Romney called his decision about how to judge Trump was “the most difficult decision I have ever faced.”
A politically emboldened Trump has eagerly embraced vindication, deploying the verdict as a political anthem in his reelection bid. The president claims he did nothing wrong, decrying the “witch hunt” and “hoax” as extensions of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian 2016 campaign interference by those out to get him from the start of his presidency.
Written by ALAN FRAM, Associated Press. AP writers Lisa Mascaro and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed.
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