Thank you, Mitt Romney. Thank you for restoring our faith in politicians — some of them anyway.
Before Romney cast his vote to convict President Donald Trump of abuse of power at the end of his impeachment trial Wednesday, the Utah senator and 2012 Republican nominee for president spoke on the floor of the Senate and explained why he would vote as he did.
"The Constitution is at the foundation of our Republic's success, and we each strive not to lose sight of our promise to defend it," Romney began. "I am a profoundly religious person. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential. I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the President, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced. I was not wrong. ...
"This verdict is ours [Senators] to render. The people will judge us for how well and faithfully we fulfilled our duty. 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 continued. "The President asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival. The President withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so. The President delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders. The President's purpose was personal and political. Accordingly, the President is guilty of an appalling abuse of the public trust. ...
"What he did was not 'perfect'— No, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security interests, and our fundamental values. Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one's oath of office that I can imagine."
Then Romney spoke of the partisan pressures he received and expects to keep receiving.
"In the last several weeks, I have received numerous calls and texts. Many demand that, in their words, 'I stand with the team.' ... But my promise before God to apply impartial justice required that I put my personal feelings and biases aside. Were I to ignore the evidence ... and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history's rebuke and the censure of my own conscience.
"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. I am sure to hear abuse from the President and his supporters. ...
"Like each member of this deliberative body, I love our country. I believe that our Constitution was inspired by Providence. I am convinced that freedom itself is dependent on the strength and vitality of our national character. As it is with each senator, my vote is an act of conviction. We have come to different conclusions, fellow senators, but I trust we have all followed the dictates of our conscience.
"I acknowledge that my verdict will not remove the President from office. The results of this Senate Court will in fact be appealed to a higher court: the judgment of the American people. ... My vote will likely be in the minority in the Senate. But irrespective of these things, with my vote, I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me. I will only be one name among many, no more or less, to future generations of Americans who look at the record of this trial. They will note merely that I was among the senators who determined that what the President did was wrong, grievously wrong.
"We're all footnotes, at best, in the annals of history. But in the most powerful nation on earth, the nation conceived in liberty and justice, that is distinction enough for any citizen."
Romney was right, of course. His courageous vote was in the minority within the Senate. In fact he was the only Republican who voted to convict the president of abuse of power. Even Lamar Alexander, who acknowledged last week that he needed no additional witnesses or evidence because he, too, was convinced of the president's guilt, voted "not guilty" on Wednesday.
Romney also was right that he would be vilified by Trump and his supporters for his guilty vote. Before an hour had passed, Donald Trump Jr. stepped up with a mocking tweet that Romney was just "bitter that he will never be POTUS."
"He's now officially a member of the resistance & should be expelled from the @GOP," the junior Trump wrote.
Resistance. Expelled. How pathetic. And the elder Trump retweeted a campaign video of himself with election signs every four years throughout the remainder of the century and beyond.
As uplifting as Romney's action and explanation were, the Trump responses were deplorable.
Got that? Deplorable. Sadly, Trump's deplorable actions now will only get worse.