The impeachment trial of the century has turned out the way everyone expected. Straight down party lines. Every Democrat voted to convict President Donald Trump on abuse of power. Surprisingly, however, one brave Republican senator decided to break from the rank and file and side with Democrats: Mitt Romney. Not so surprisingly, Senate Republicans quickly moved to censure him.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert said, “Sometimes we don’t like his style, but it’s hard to overlook the successes that he’s had.” Herbert voted against censuring Romney. Of course, the idea that we can censure someone simply for voting their conscience is objectionable to say the least. What happened to the idea of a country before a political party?
Romney said of the decision to convict Trump: “This has been the most difficult decision I have ever had to make in my life. I have gone through a process of very thorough analysis and searching, and I have prayed through this process. But I don’t pretend that God told me what to do.”
“The president did in fact pressure a foreign government to corrupt our election process,” he said. “And really, corrupting an election process in a democratic republic is about as abusive and egregious an act against the Constitution — and one’s oath — that I can imagine. It’s what autocrats do.”
Much of the argument over whether or not Trump’s actions were impeachable came down to interpretation over the Constitutional phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which, contrary to popular belief, doesn’t actually mean crimes the way we traditionally think of them. When the Founding Fathers wrote this into the Constitution, it was meant to describe a public officer who had broken the trust of the people. Which is exactly what the discussion should have been about.
But as they so often do, Republicans twisted the discussion with misinformation and conspiracy theories regarding Obama doing the exact same thing when he was in office or the government of Ukraine trying to get Hillary elected. Neither are true, but that’s how Trump got away with ripping the Constitution to shreds, time and time again.
Romney admitted that he had read Alexander Hamilton’s thoughts on impeachment (and the meaning of high crimes and misdemeanors) in Federalist No. 65. This was how Romney determined that the president was guilty of the crime and should be removed from office immediately. His Republican colleagues instead decided to put party first, and protect the president — thereby increasing their own chances for reelection in a country whose Republicans strongly support him.