Romney calls GOP congressman’s impeachment call a ‘courageous statement’ but says he doesn’t support it

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Sen. Mitt Romney wraps up a series of meetings with state lawmakers at the Utah Capitol on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019.

Washington • Sen. Mitt Romney on Sunday said a GOP congressman’s call for impeaching President Donald Trump was a “courageous statement” but not one that he yet supports.

Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., said Saturday in a series of tweets that Trump “engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment.” He is the first Republican to call for such an action against the GOP president.

Romney, a Utah Republican appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union with Jake Tapper,” said Amash has “reached a different conclusion than I have” and pointed out that even if the House were to impeach Trump, the GOP-controlled Senate wouldn’t convict.

“I respect [Amash],” Romney said. “... It’s a courageous statement. But I believe to make a case for obstruction of justice, you just don’t have the elements that are evidenced in this document.”

Romney had said he was “sickened” by special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which identified multiple attempts by the president to thwart the investigation but did not conclude whether Trump obstructed justice.

On Sunday, Romney said there wasn't enough evidence to justify an impeachment process.

“I don’t think a prosecutor would actually look at this and say, ‘OK, we have here all the elements that would get this to a conviction,’” Romney said. “So, you know, everyone reaches their own conclusion. As I read the report, I was troubled by it. [It] was very disappointing for a number of reasons. But it did not suggest to me this was a time to call for impeachment.”

Trump, on Sunday morning, tweeted his disdain for Amash.

“Never a fan of @justinamash, a total lightweight who opposes me and some of our great Republican ideas and policies just for the sake of getting his name out there through controversy,” Trump tweeted. “If he actually read the biased Mueller Report, 'composed' by 18 Angry Dems who hated Trump,....he would see that it was nevertheless strong on NO COLLUSION and, ultimately, NO OBSTRUCTION...Anyway, how do you Obstruct when there is no crime and, in fact, the crimes were committed by the other side? Justin is a loser who sadly plays right into our opponents hands!”

Romney also responded to reports that the White House was considering sending up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East if Iran were to target U.S. soldiers or interests in the region, or escalate its nuclear weapon program.

The Utah senator had said he didn't believe the president wanted to launch another war after criticizing the United States' invasion of Iraq in 2003.

I don’t believe for a minute that either the president or [National Security Adviser] John Bolton or, frankly, anyone else in a senior position of leadership in the White House has any interest in going to the Middle East and going to war,” Romney said. “That’s just not going to happen.”

Romney also said he opposed Alabama's new abortion law, the strictest in the country that bars abortion proceedings at every stage of pregnancy with a single exception for when a woman's health is at “serious” risk. It has no exceptions for rape or incest.

“I don’t support the Alabama law,” Romney told CNN. “I believe that there ought to be exceptions. I’m pro-life, but there ought to be exceptions for rape and incest and when [a threat to] the life of the mother exists.”

Romney said “both sides” of the abortion debate have gone to extremes, noting laws in New York and Virginia that leave open the question of whether to resuscitate a baby born with life-altering defections to the mother and her doctor.

“Look, you’re seeing laws on both sides of this argument that are extreme, and whether it’s New York and Virginia or whether its Alabama or Missouri, people have gone to the wings if you will,” Romney said. “I don’t think that’s productive. I think something much more toward the center makes much more sense.”