Washington • President Donald Trump bluntly said Sunday that he doesn’t like Sen. Mitt Romney and purposefully left the Utah Republican off an economic recovery task force because of his ill will for Romney, who voted to convict the president in the impeachment trial.
“I’m not a fan of Mitt Romney,” Trump said during a news conference Sunday. “I don’t really want his advice.”
Trump was responding to a few questions from The Salt Lake Tribune, including "Does that show you’re still holding a grudge against Mitt Romney?”
To which the president said: “Yeah. It does. Yeah."
The president on Thursday named the “Opening Up America Again Congressional Group” to advise him on how to bring back the nation’s economy amid the coronavirus outbreak that has put more than 22 million Americans on the unemployment rolls and killed more than 40,000 people in the country.
The group is comprised of 22 Democrats and 74 Republicans, including every Senate Republican except Romney, who was the lone Republican vote to convict Trump of abuse of power in the February trial.
Even though Trump was acquitted, Romney’s vote has stuck with the president ever since. Trump has castigated Romney repeatedly, including questioning why a devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would cite religion in announcing his guilty vote against Trump.
The White House has not commented on why Romney was left off the congressional task force, but Trump had no qualms about saying that it was personal.
Reminded by The Tribune that Romney had been a governor, Trump interjected to say he didn’t want Romney’s advice. Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, had served as the Massachusetts governor after a long career with the venture capital firm Bain Capital and also as head of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Romney’s office declined to comment Sunday night, but last week had issued a statement after the congressional task force was announced. The statement left out any mention of the task force.
“Sen. Romney and his team are 100% focused on helping Utah families and businesses get access to federal assistance as they deal with the fallout from this crisis,” Romney spokeswoman Liz Johnson said.
Trump’s allies, though, were quick to seize on the president’s snub of Romney.
“Love the transparency here,” tweeted Jason Miller, a former Trump campaign spokesman. “Later, Mitt!”
Romney and Trump have had a long love-hate relationship — from Romney’s acceptance of Trump’s endorsement during the 2012 presidential campaign to Romney calling Trump a “phony, a fraud” during Trump’s 2016 White House run to the then-president-elect considering Romney as his secretary of state.
Trump’s comments about Romney came after a nearly two hour news conference where he touched on various topics touting his administration’s response to the deadly virus and fending off any criticism that he should have acted sooner or differently as Americans were dying.
As of Sunday night, “Mitt Romney” was trending on Twitter in the Washington, D.C., area.