After making the case for calling witnesses both in front of the cameras and behind the scenes this week, Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, a frequent Donald Trump critic, made it official Friday. He will vote to allow additional witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial.
The senator’s decision, which became increasingly clear that he would make when he began to openly defend calling witnesses earlier in the week, was confirmed in a statement from his spokeswoman Friday, who specifically cited Romney’s interest in hearing more from former White House national security adviser John Bolton as part of his rationale for breaking with fellow Republicans.
“For those asking: As [Sen. Romney] has said, he wants to hear from Ambassador Bolton, and he will vote in favor of the motion today to consider witnesses,” Romney spokeswoman Liz Johnson tweeted Friday morning.
For those asking: As @SenatorRomney has said, he wants to hear from Ambassador Bolton, and he will vote in favor of the motion today to consider witnesses.
— Liz Johnson (@LJ0hnson) January 31, 2020
Romney’s announcement follows Sen. Susan Collins (ME) likewise announcing that she will vote to hear additional impeachment testimony, giving the Democrats two of the four votes they need to force the issue on the Republican-majority Senate. Multiple reports indicate, however, that the Democrats have failed to convince enough Republicans to detract, with potential Republican swing vote Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announcing Thursday that he will vote against allowing more witnesses, leaving only Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) as a possible yes vote.
“I worked with other senators to make sure that we have the right to ask for more documents and witnesses, but there is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the U.S. Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense,” Sen. Alexander announced Thursday. “There is no need for more evidence to prove that the president asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter; he said this on television on October 3, 2019, and during his July 25, 2019, telephone call with the president of Ukraine.”
At the beginning of the impeachment trial last week, Romney issued a statement underscoring that he believes the Democrats’ allegations against Trump are “extremely serious” and indicating that he was already leaning toward gathering more evidence.
“The allegations outlined in the articles of impeachment passed by the House are extremely serious—did the President abuse his office for personal political gain, and did he obstruct Congress’ investigation by blocking subpoenas?” read the statement posted on his senatorial webpage. “These allegations demand that the Senate put political biases aside, and make good faith efforts to listen to arguments from both sides and thoroughly review facts and evidence. I have made clear to my colleagues and the public that the Senate should have the opportunity to decide on witnesses following the opening arguments, as occurred in the Clinton trial.”
Following reports Sunday on claims allegedly contained in Bolton’s upcoming book manuscript that Trump informed him that the withholding of Ukraine security aid was connected to investigations into the Bidens, Romney ratcheted up his rhetoric. “The article in the New York Times I think made it pretty clear that [Bolton] has some information that may be relevant,” Romney said Monday. “And I’d like to hear relevant information before I made a final decision.” According to Politico, Romney also “made a strong pitch” to fellow Republicans at a private lunch Monday.