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Mitt Romney is sole GOP senator to criticize latest string of inflammatory Trump claims

(Senate Television via AP | file photo) In this image from video, Sen. Mitt Romney speaks on the Senate floor about the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Feb. 5, 2020.

After President Donald Trump made a string of inflammatory claims this week, the New York Times could find only one Republican senator who was willing to speak out against them: Mitt Romney of Utah.

“The comments and tweets over the past few days,” Romney told the Times, “including a retweet of a 2019 video clearly intended to further inflame racial tensions, are simply jaw-dropping.”

That referred to Trump reposting on Sunday a tweet that had falsely blamed “Black Lives Matter/Antifa” for a 2019 crime in which a Black man shoved a white woman into a New York City subway train. The man shown in the video has nothing to do with those movements, and has a long history of offenses on New York City’s transit system.

The national newspaper said Romney’s willingness to go it alone among GOP senators in criticizing the president “fits a familiar pattern of the former Republican standard-bearer playing the unlikely role of maverick.”

Romney, of course, was the only Republican senator who voted to impeach Trump. He has said that he will not vote for Trump this year but has not said whom he will support. Four years ago, he voted for his wife instead of Trump.

The Times had asked about a dozen GOP senators about Trump’s recent statements, and no others would comment. “This is also a familiar pattern: Mr. Trump saying something incendiary while his fellow Republicans say nothing,” the newspaper said.

Among some of the claims that Trump made this week are:

• Protests against police brutality were actually a secret “coup attempt” by anarchists “trying to take down the President.”

• He retweeted messages asserting that the pandemic’s death toll was overstated. Evidence indicates the opposite is true.

• Trump said that police officers like the one in Kenosha, Wis., who shot an unarmed Black man seven times last week — leaving him paralyzed from the waist down — have a hard time with pressure and so “they choke, just like in a golf tournament, they miss a three-foot.”

• Trump claimed that he “took control of” unrest in Kenosha by sending in the National Guard. In fact, Wisconsin’s governor, not the president, called out the National Guard.

• He said that “people that you’ve never heard of” and “people that are in the dark shadows” are controlling Joe Biden.

He said that Biden, at the Democratic National Convention, “didn’t even discuss law enforcement, the police. Those words weren’t mentioned.” In fact, Biden held a discussion at the convention on policing, with a police chief.

• Trump said that a plane “almost completely loaded with thugs” wearing “dark uniforms” had been headed to the Republican National Convention to do “big damage.” The claim is similar to a baseless conspiracy theory that spread online over the summer, well before the convention.

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