Reprinted with permission from Alternet
Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah joined Congress in 2018 as a figure who many hoped would challenge President Donald Trump and hold him to account as a powerful and independent force from within the GOP. For the most part, those hopes were quickly dashed.
But as Trump’s Ukraine scandal has ballooned and reinvigorated the impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives, Romney has shown signs of that once hoped for independent and principled nature that many had long stopped looking for in the Republican Party. On Sept. 22, when revelations about Trump’s pressure on Ukraine were emerging, Romney tweeted one of the most significant warnings from with GOP ranks: “If the President asked or pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rival, either directly or through his personal attorney, it would be troubling in the extreme. Critical for the facts to come out.”
He has largely been silent since, leading to some criticism from liberal-leaning commentators, but on Friday afternoon — after the revelation of damning State Department texts related to the Ukraine matter and Trump’s open invitation for China to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday — Romney came out even more forcefully:
By all appearances, the President’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) October 4, 2019
This is the strongest pushback we’ve seen from the Republican yet on Trump’s actions — and it’s coming from the Senate, where Trump desperately needs to hang on to GOP votes if he’s to stay in office. GOP Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, too, issued criticism of Trump’s China remarks, the Omaha World-Herald reported:
“Hold up: Americans don’t look to Chinese commies for the truth,” Sasse said in a written statement to The World-Herald. “If the Biden kid broke laws by selling his name to Beijing, that’s a matter for American courts, not communist tyrants running torture camps.”
But for now, most of the GOP is staying silent or openly complicit on Trump’s brazen violations. It’s not clear if Romney and Sasse are signs of more dissent to come or mere outliers from the overall trend.