Some Utah Republicans are rumbling in disgust over Republican Sen. Mitt Romney’s vote to convict former President Donald Trump during Trump’s Senate impeachment trial.
Although seven Republicans sided with Senate Democrats and voted to convict Trump, the total was far short of the number needed for conviction. Romney had also sided with Senate Democrats in Trump’s 2020 impeachment trial.
“I’ve gotten phone calls and emails, and I’m seeing a lot of chat on Facebook that people want to do a measure of censure against Sen. Romney, like we’ve seen against Liz Cheney in Wyoming, and the senator down in Louisiana,” said Bob McEntee, a member of the Utah Republican Party’s State Central Committee.
Brandon Beckham, a GOP State Central Committee member who supported censuring Romney over his 2020 vote, said he “absolutely will” vote to censure Romney for this latest action if the party puts the question up to a vote.
“If the Republican Party doesn’t respond here in Utah, then we look weak, we look complicit. We aren’t doing our job,” he said.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, a petition to censure Romney is making the rounds among Utah Republicans. The petition reportedly slams Romney for “embarrassing the state of Utah” and says that he “appears to be an agent for the Establishment Deep State.”
Republican Richard Ott made the case for censure in an Op-Ed for The Tribune.
“Granted, Romney was right in the middle of the capitol riot. His life was in danger and was protected by a courageous police officer. He has been the subject of many personal Twitter attacks from Trump. It is also a fact that a majority of Utahns are not Trump supporters so, by voting with the Democrats, Romney could reasonably say he was representing his constituents,” Ott wrote, setting up his argument. “So why did Sen. Mike Lee not vote with the Democrats as well?”
Ott then said the trial was an unconstitutional political exercise and should have been judged as such.
“Because the whole thing eroded the Constitution. Everything from free speech to due process to impeaching a president who had already been voted out by the voice of the people. It all shredded the Constitution,” he wrote.
“Both senators took an oath to the constitution. One kept his oath. One didn’t.”
Ott said the impeachment vote raises questions about what Utah Republicans stand for.
“Now my question is can we trust the state Republican establishment to protect our constitutional rights? Will our governor and state elected officials stand up to any potential unconstitutional federal overreach? By remaining silent, my feeling is the answer is no,” he wrote.
“It is not about Trump. It is about the Constitution. It is about our rights to be free from tyranny. Romney failed the test and if our state party does not hold him accountable then they are failing the test as well.”
Ott said state Republicans need to show they support the Constitution.
“It is my opinion that the state Republican Party should move to censure Romney and take away all financial support. They should also immediately find a strong constitutional candidate to start a primary campaign to make sure Mitt is relegated to one term. That is all he needs as I think he has accomplished what he set out to do,” he wrote.
Utah GOP Chair Derek Brown said the statewide party is not issuing a comment about Romney’s vote.
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