Washington: Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said Sunday that he disagrees with the call for President Trump’s impeachment issued by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich.
“It’s a courageous statement,” Romney said on CNN’s “State of the Union” of Amash’s statement, which appears to be the first instance of a Republican member of Congress calling for impeachment. But he cautioned: “The American people just aren’t there.” He added that the Senate also wasn’t there.
On Saturday, Amash said he had concluded Trump had “engaged in impeachable conduct” after reading special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Although Mueller said he did not find evidence that the Trump campaign worked with the Russians, he left open the question of whether Trump should be prosecuted for obstruction of justice for acts including the firing of FBI Director James Comey and looking for ways to dismiss Mueller. Attorney General William Barr made the call not to pursue an indictment.
“I just don’t think that there is the full element that you’d need to prove an obstruction of justice case,” Romney said. “I don’t think a prosecutor would actually look at this and say, ‘OK, we have here all the elements that would get this to a conviction.’ So everyone reaches their own conclusion. As I read the report, I was troubled by it. It was very disappointing for a number of reasons. But it did not suggest to me that this was time to call for impeachment.”
Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, said in April that he was “sickened” by what he read in Mueller’s report. On Sunday, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Romney if the Mueller report was evidence Trump had “disgraced the office of the presidency.”
“I think a number of the things that were done were really, really troubling and unfortunate and distressing,” the Utah senator replied. “Clearly, the number of times that there were items of dishonesty misleading the American public and the media, those are things that you would not want to see from the highest office in the land.”
Romney and Trump have had a roller-coaster relationship. Romney accepted Trump’s endorsement for his 2012 presidential bid, but in a scathing March 2016 speech, Romney skewered Trump for his business bankruptcies and caustic campaign rhetoric.
“Here’s what I know: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University,” Romney said then. “He’s playing the members of the American public for suckers. He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat.”
Trump repeatedly lashed out against Romney in response. “Mitt Romney is a mixed-up man who doesn’t have a clue. No wonder he lost!” Trump exclaimed at one point.
Romney refused to endorse or vote for Trump in the 2016 general election, but after the election met with Trump, who was considering — or dangling — an offer to be secretary of state, a job that went to Rex Tillerson.
Trump endorsed Romney in his Senate race last year, and Romney accepted.