Speed Reads

can't stop won't stop

Trump is already attacking Mitt Romney, ignoring aides urging him to let it go

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) didn't give the White House or the Republican National Committee, run by a niece, advance warning that he would announce his vote to convict President Trump for abuse of power on Wednesday, but he knew the blowback was coming. And it came quickly. Donald Trump Jr. was the first Trump to attack Romney, saying the Senate GOP should expel Romney — which won't happen — and mocking him for wearing "mom jeans."

The president, who hates defections and had wanted to poach at least one Senate Democrat for acquittal (he got none), held his fire for a few hours. Then on Wednesday evening he posted an attack video in which the narrator says Romney, a lifetime Republican and the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, is "posing as a Republican" and was "exposed by news reports as a Democrat secret asset." The ad also contrasts Trump's 2016 victory with Romney's 2012 loss. It doesn't mention impeachment.

"Whether the thirst for vengeance against Romney is sustained will hinge on Trump, who has long smarted from the Utah Republican's criticism of him and takes pride in hitting back at perceived and real enemies," The Washington Post reports. "Party and campaign officials said privately that they hoped Trump wouldn't obsess over the lone defection and move on from impeachment," and "a senior Trump campaign official said the longer the Romney news cycle drags on, the worse it is for the president, because it focuses attention on his impeachment."

Senate Republicans shrugged off Don Jr.'s call to cancel Romney, but Romney's eight-minute floor speech announcing his decision did not paint his GOP colleagues in a flattering light, either.

"The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the president committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a high crime and misdemeanor. Yes, he did," Romney told a nearly empty Senate chamber. "The president is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust."

"I am aware that there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision, and in some quarters, I will be vehemently denounced," Romney added. "I am sure to hear abuse from the president and his supporters. Does anyone seriously believe I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?"