Kudos to Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, for having the courage and integrity to once again speak truth to power.
While most of his GOP colleagues are predictably falling in line when it comes to their interpretation of the newly released Mueller report, and some are even parroting the embarrassingly fallacious refrain, “No collusion - No obstruction!,” Romney is boldly proclaiming that the picture the report paints is deeply troubling.
In a statement released on Friday, Romney said that he was “sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the President.”
He also called the report “a sobering revelation of how far we have strayed from the aspirations and principles of the founders.”
Truer words were never spoken.
What’s astonishing is that so few of our leaders from the party that claims family values and high moral and ethical standards as its core principles are acknowledging this obvious truth. Instead, the vast majority are completely ignoring the parts of the report that even Fox News anchor, Chris Wallace, called “damaging” and “politically embarrassing,” and are instead endlessly repeating that it’s just time to move on.
So, are party leaders also saying it is time to move on from the 2016 Republican Platform? Because here are a few statements from that Platform:
• “Our most urgent task as a Party is to restore the American people’s faith in their government by electing a president who will enforce duly enacted laws, honor constitutional limits on executive authority, and return credibility to the Oval Office.”
• “Honest elections are the foundation of representative government. We pledge to protect the voting rights of every citizen” and “to guard against foreign involvement in our elections.”
As the Mueller report made abundantly clear, President Trump has not honored constitutional limits on executive authority or in any way returned credibility to the Oval Office. Nor did he attempt to protect honest elections, but instead chose not to report Russian meddling in our elections. While it is true that the special counsel did not find evidence sufficient to establish criminal conspiracy, the actual wording of the report in relation to the question of obstruction of justice is significant:
“At the same time, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” (emphasis added)
Among the most troubling revelations in the report are these:
1. Russia interfered “in a sweeping and systematic fashion” in the 2016 election (something that Trump has repeatedly denied).
2. Trump and his associates had “at least 140 contacts with Russian nationals and WikiLeaks, or their intermediaries, during the 2016 campaign and presidential transition,” according to analysis of the report by The New York Times.
3. When Trump was informed that Mueller had been hired to conduct an investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia, he responded with intense anger and graphic language, and said: “This is the end of my presidency.”
4. Trump tried repeatedly to shut down or undermine the special counsel's investigation, but time after time, his staff refused to follow his orders.
Clearly, if there was no obstruction, it was not for lack of trying.
Despite the President’s insistence otherwise, he was not exonerated. And saying it over and over will not somehow make it true. Though, frighteningly, in the minds of many of his supporters, that is exactly what will happen.
This is why we so desperately need leaders like Romney, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine; and others who have the moral courage to stand firm in the principles the Republican party was founded upon and in all cases to boldly acknowledge that truth matters.
Victoria Reid, Dalene Rex Rowley and Janel Hulbert are members of the nonpartisan organization, Mormon Women for Ethical Government.