Utah Sen. Mitt Romney had a short but harrowing cameo during impeachment trial videos shown Wednesday to the Senate about violence at the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riots.
Del. Stacy Plaskett, D-Virgin Islands, one of the House managers prosecuting former President Donald Trump, narrated that moment for senators.
“In this security footage, you can see [Capitol Police] Officer [Eugene] Goodman running to respond to the initial breach,” she says. “Officer Goodman passes Sen. Mitt Romney, and directs him to turn around in order to get to safety.”
Romney is shown turning and then running to escape the mob.
Of course, Romney is one of the most recognizable members of Congress as the 2012 GOP nominee for president — and is someone the mob probably despised as the sole Republican who voted to convict Trump in his first impeachment. Had the mob found him, it could have been a disaster for Romney.
Romney told reporters during a dinner break that that he did not realize the mob had been so close to him, and did not know until today exactly who the officer was who had warned him away from the rioters. “I am deeply grateful to Officer Eugene Goodman for his bravery, and I am thankful for all of the officers and agents whose heroic actions prevented a tragic situation from becoming even more horrific.”
About videos shown Wednesday, Romney said, “It was obviously very troubling to see the great violence that our Capitol police and others were subjected to. It tears at your heart and brings tears to your eyes. That was overwhelmingly distressing and emotional.”
Sen. Mike Lee caused controversy at the end of the day Wednesday — arguing that House managers quoted a media report about him that was false. He demanded that it be stricken, and managers agreed for the time being.
At issue was that Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., one of the House managers, noted that Trump mistakenly phoned Lee on Jan. 6 while trying to reach Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville — and Lee handed his phone to Tuberville.
But Cicilline quoted media reports saying Lee had said that from the side of the conversation that he heard that Trump was not calling out of concern for senators, but to urge Tuberville to slow certification.
So Ciclline had said that while senators were threatened by mobs, “our commander in chief makes a call about an hour after the siege began — not to preserve and protect and defend you and our country and the Capitol, but to join forces with the mob and pressure a senator to stop certification.”
A furious Lee said descriptions attributed to him “were not made by me. They were not accurate,” and Lee demanded that they be stricken from the record.
House manager Jamie Rankin said Cicilline had “correctly and accurately quoted a newspaper account” that Lee now disputes. “So we are happy to withdraw it on the grounds it is not true. … This is much ado about nothing because it is not critical” to the case against Trump.
Meanwhile, Plaskett said Goodman was a hero in other ways besides helping Romney away from a near-miss. “On the first floor just beneath them [Goodman and Romney], the mob has already started to search for the Senate chamber. Officer Goodman made his way down to the first floor,” she says.
Goodman, by himself, is shown later tricking protesters who are essentially at the door of the Senate into following him as he retreats to where other officers are waiting. Romney is a co-sponsor of legislation to award Goodman the congressional gold medal.
It came on a day when senators were shown videos that previously had not been made public about the violence, including several close calls between members of Congress and protestors chanting that they wanted to kill them.
“This is what the president has caused today, this insurrection,” he told New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin after senators arrived at a secure location.
Reporter David Freedlander with Politico tweeted that Romney earlier yelled in the Senate chamber, “This is what you’ve gotten” to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and his colleagues who raised objections to the electoral vote counts.
After violent protesters were cleared from the Capitol and the Senate reconvened later that evening, Romney gave a speech where he blasted Trump, saying that the storming of the Capitol was the result of “a selfish man’s injured pride and the outrage of supporters who he had deliberately misled for the past two months and stirred to action this very morning.”
He added, “What happened here today was an insurrection, incited by the president of the United States. … Those who choose to continue to support his dangerous gambit by objecting to the results of a legitimate, democratic election will forever be seen as being complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy.”
Romney said the “best way we can show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth.... The truth is that President-elect Biden won the election. President Trump lost. I’ve had that experience myself, it’s no fun.”
He concluded, “I urge my colleagues to move forward in completing the electoral count, to refrain from further objections, and to unanimously affirm the legitimacy of the presidential election.”
Of course, Trump is on trial for a second time for inciting the riot — which Romney said was the case on the night of Jan. 6.
Correction: 4:37 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10. This story has been updated to remove a tweet incorrectly attributed to Sen. Mitt Romney.