Washington • Sen. Mitt Romney said Thursday that Americans aren’t looking for Congress to launch impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump and that Democrats must weigh the political realities of trying to remove the president from power.
“It’s pretty clear that the American people don’t favor an impeachment process,” Romney told The Salt Lake Tribune during a short interview. “And a jury composed of the Senate would not be inclined to favor an impeachment verdict.”
Some 70 House Democrats and one House Republican, Michigan’s Justin Amash, say they want to start an impeachment inquiry against Trump after damning details emerged in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. That report did not find that Trump’s team colluded with Russia in meddling in the 2016 election but cited several instances when Trump tried to thwart the investigation, pointing to possible obstruction of justice.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has been urging her caucus to tamp down impeachment talk, a move she fears could cost Democrats seats in 2020.
Romney, who had called the findings in Mueller’s report “sickening,” did not offer his own opinion on whether an impeachment process should start but noted the reality of taking such an action with a GOP-led Senate that would ultimately decide on any impeachment articles brought by the House.
“There’s a lot of politics behind the discussion," Romney said, “but I think any time you consider impeachment you recognize that there is a political component to that discussion.”
As the debate continues, he added, it would be wise for House Democrats to tread carefully.
“Speaker Pelosi has to make the decision as any prosecutor would,” Romney said. “Which is, ‘All right, what are my chances with the jury? What kind of evidence do I have?’ And at this stage, she and her fellow Democrats are trying to make that assessment.”
Rep. Ben McAdams, Utah’s lone Democrat in Congress, has said he believes the Mueller report shows Trump engaged in “dishonest and corrupt behavior” but that it did not reach the “high bar” required for impeachment.
Utah’s other members of Congress, all Republicans, remain steadfast in their objection to impeachment and have urged Democrats to move on from the 2016 election.
“Politically speaking, it would be a mistake,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said on “Face the Nation” earlier this year.
“There’s nothing in this report that changes my view of this president,” Lee said on the CBS program in April. “I don’t think most Americans, I don’t think most senators, most members of Congress ... will have their view of the president of the United States changed by this report. There’s just nothing in there that should do that.”
Rep. Chris Stewart, a Utah Republican and member of the House Intelligence Committee, has defended Trump during the Muller investigation and argues Democrats are on a vendetta to get the president.
“You can’t impeach a president because you don’t like him,” Stewart said at a town hall in Utah in May.