Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), whom conservatives have long complained is not one of them, joined with Democrats on Friday in a crucial Senate vote during President Trump’s impeachment trial.
As Democrats pushed to call more witnesses, Romney announced he would join their effort, saying he wanted to hear from former National Security Adviser John Bolton. Just one other Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, voted with all Democrats on the measure, which failed 51-49.
Republicans were furious that Romney broke ranks, and now one conservative group is seeking to punish the Utah senator for his transgression.
The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) says Romney won’t be welcome at their Washington, D.C., conference in February.
“The ‘extreme conservative’ and Junior Senator from the great state of Utah, @SenatorRomney is formally NOT invited to #CPAC2020,” tweeted Matt Schlapp, who leads the organization behind CPAC.
— Matt Schlapp (@mschlapp) January 31, 2020
Schlapp told Fox News that each year, CPAC “formally disinvite[s] someone who has been particularly egregious.” Romney, however, was not technically “disinvited,” as an invite was never formally extended.
“Mitt Romney deserved this [because] his Senate tenure is a waste and his vote was the latest outrage,” he added.
Trump and Romney have battled in the past before apparently burying the hatchet. Still, Romney loves the spotlight, and before the crucial vote in the Senate on witnesses, Romney blasted the president’s “brazen” requests for foreign nations to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who was employed by a corrupt energy company in Ukraine. “By all appearances, the President’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling,” he said.
CPAC holds one of the largest conservative summits in the nation each year, and Trump has spoken at the conference the last three years. This year’s event starts Feb. 26 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, and Republican California Rep. Devin Nunes, conservative commentator Mark Levin, and Brexit leader Nigel Farage, among others, are scheduled to speak.
Romney’s decision to vote with Democrats drew harsh criticism from former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, who had served as Romney’s top adviser during his failed 2012 run for the White House.
“It’s disappointing because I think Mitt Romney is clearly letting his personal dislike of the president influence him more than trying to deal with [what] this country needs,” Sununu told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.”
Before Friday’s failed vote on witnesses, Romney said he thought the move woulds garner Republican support.
“I think, with the story [about Bolton’s book] that came out yesterday, it’s increasingly apparent that it would be important to hear from John Bolton,” Romney told reporters.
“I think it’s increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton,” Romney said. “I’ve spoken with others who’ve opined upon this, as well.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said after the vote that calling more witnesses would have been unprecedented.
“There is no need for the Senate to reopen the investigation which the House Democratic majority chose to conclude and which the [House] managers themselves continue to describe as ‘overwhelming’ and ‘beyond any doubt,’” McConnell said in a statement. “Never in Senate history has this body paused an impeachment trial to pursue additional witnesses with unresolved questions of executive privilege that would require protracted litigation. We have no interest in establishing such a new precedent, particularly for individuals whom the House expressly chose not to pursue.”