The future of the United States depends on Mitt Romney — but not in the way he imagined when he ran for president in 2012.
The following things are going to happen:
- More will come out about Trump and Ukraine. None of it will look good for Trump.
- More will come out about Trump inviting other countries like China to interfere in American politics.
- Trump’s theory that he can’t be prosecuted while in office will fall apart. The New York Attorney General’s case against him, including the subpoenas for his tax returns, will continue.
- The Democrats who control the House of Representatives will vote to impeach him, most likely by the end of 2019.
What will happen after that is uncertain, though. If things continue as they are now, there are not 67 votes in the Senate to convict the president and remove him from office.
The current stance of Senate Republicans is mostly along the lines of, “This is no big deal, I have no comment, He was just joking, Look at what Biden did.” Putting aside the truth and logic or lack thereof in these statements, consider them politically.
A Republican in the U.S. Senate who might potentially vote to convict Trump is facing a potential backlash from Trump voters or a primary challenge. They’re also facing the prospect of being in the crosshairs of Trump’s Twitter feed.
Mitt Romney has gone public with his concerns in a tweet that is nothing if not logical.
Any senator considering making a similar statement has to consider how Trump reacted to this. Here’s his response:
Romney is the man for this moment
Mitt Romney was our governor here in Massachusetts. What you know of him from his presidential run is not all there is. What I know about Romney is this: he is very rich, he is a traditional Republican, he is fiscally conservative, he loves America, he is moral, and he loves God. While I didn’t agree with him on everything, I had no serious problems with the way he managed the state — and he got things done in collaboration with the Democrats who dominate the state legislature here.
He even managed to get the first comprehensive health care plan passed here — a plan that very much resembles what Obama and the Democrats in Congress passed nationwide a few years later.
Romney is not worried about reelection because the Republicans who dominate Utah know him (he saved the Salt Lake City Olympics) and respect him. He is Mormon, and that makes a difference in Utah. Regardless of what Trump tweeted, you can’t impeach a Senator, and he’s done nothing illegal or immoral — he just criticized the president. For all we know, he won’t even run again; he’ll be 78 when it’s time for reelection.
And he’s been a Trump critic from the start of Trump’s term.
If another Senator comes out firmly against Trump’s actions, they’ll get strafed just like Romney was. But there are cracks. Rob Portman of Ohio said Trump was wrong to seek help from Ukraine and China on Biden. And Ben Sasse of Nebraska said “American’s don’t look to Chinese Commies for truth” and the whistleblower complaint contained “real troubling things.”
If there is a change here, it’s going to happen all at once, or not at all. Either 20+ Republican Senators (and maybe a few Republican Representatives) will come out for impeachment together, or just one or two will. Consider how different things would feel if 67 Senators voted to remove Trump from office. That’s not nearly the same as if only 48 did (45 Democrats, two independents, and maybe Romney).
I actually read John F. Kennedy’s book Profiles in Courage, which is about Senators who voted their conscience at great political cost. This is Mitt Romney’s moment to be a profile in courage, or not.
There are months between now and when the impeachment vote is held in the Senate. After more information comes out, and assuming Mitt Romney decides impeachment is appropriate, he may begin lobbying Senators to do what he feels is right for the country. Such an effort has to start somewhere — the most likely place is with Romney, the Republicans’ most recent presidential nominee before Trump.
And that is probably the only thing that could change the outcome of the vote.
That is why Mitt Romney is the most important man in America right now. What he decides to do next will make all the difference.