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Romney announces he will vote to convict President Trump in impeachment trial

'It was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security, and our fundamental values.'

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Answering one of the last remaining questions about the outcome of the Senate's impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) announced Wednesday afternoon that he would vote to convict the president.

"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," Romney said. "Yes, he did."

Romney went on to say that Trump "is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust. What he did was not perfect. No. It was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security, and our fundamental values."

The announcement came just hours before expected Senate votes on the two articles of impeachment that were approved by the House of Representatives in December. The first article alleged that Trump had abused his powers as president in asking the Ukrainian government to look into suspected corruption involving former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden; the second alleged that the president unconstitutionally obstructed Congress in refusing to cooperate with the House's impeachment investigation.

"Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end," Romney said, "it would, I fear, expose my character to history's rebuke and the censure of my own conscience."

Romney's decision is sure to ignite backlash against him among fellow Republicans, but he said in his speech that he was ready for the criticism that he will likely receive.

"I am aware 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 said. "I'm sure to hear abuse from the president and his supporters. Does anyone seriously believe that I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?"

Romney, whose public disagreements with President Trump have long been the subject of national news headlines, was seen as a potential swing vote in the impeachment trial. Last week, he and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) broke party lines and voted with Democrats on the question of calling further witnesses for the trial.

Romney is the only Republican senator to announce that he will vote to convict the president. On Tuesday afternoon, Collins announced that she will vote to acquit Trump, as did potential swing vote Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) the day before. Retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has also said that he will vote to acquit the president.

One last thing…
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