House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) both praised Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) for voting on one article of impeachment—abuse of power—against President Donald Trump on Wednesday.
Romney, who voted against the other charge—obstruction of Congress—was the lone GOP senator to vote in favor of either article of impeachment. All Democratic senators voted to convict Trump on both articles of impeachment and no other Republicans broke ranks—with a final tally of 48 to 52.
“I do want to salute Mitt Romney,” Schumer told reporters on Wednesday, according to The Hill. “The pressure on every Republican was enormous. The fact that this is bipartisan holds up a beacon to what was right and what was wrong.”
Pelosi told reporters that Romney’s vote was “very courageous” and didn’t elaborate further.
Before the vote, Romney explained that while he supports a number of policies implemented by the current administration, he argued the president’s alleged actions constitute impeachable offenses. Both Romney and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) joined Democrats to subpoena witnesses in a failed bid last week.
“I acknowledge that my verdict will not remove the president from office. Voters will make the final decision,” Romney said on the Senate floor. “I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential. I know from the outset the task of judging the president, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I’d ever face. I was not wrong,” he said.
By not acquitting Trump, it denied the president unanimous Republican support and gave the Democrats more ammunition as they can now say Trump was convicted in a bipartisan vote.
Romney has had a fraught relationship with the president, having criticized then-candidate Trump during the 2016 campaign before he was interviewed for a cabinet job after Trump won office. After winning in 2018, Romney entered the Senate as being one of Trump’s main Republican critics.
In the wake of his vote to convict, the freshman senator and 2012 GOP presidential candidate faced significant backlash from Republicans on Wednesday, including from Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., who urged Republican leaders to jettison him from the caucus. “Wrong, wrong, wrong move,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) of Romney’s vote, according to Politico.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pushed back against those suggestions because Romney “has been largely supportive of most everything we’ve tried to accomplish.”