Some Utah Republicans are looking to censure Sen. Mitt Romney for voting to convict former President Donald Trump of inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in his second impeachment trial.
A Google doc petition circulating on social media says Romney failed to “represent the average conservative Utah Republican voter” and that he has put his “personal and political vendetta” against Trump ahead of the Constitution and the GOP platform.
Romney was one of seven Republicans to join all 50 Democrats who voted Saturday to convict Trump after a weeklong Senate trial. Trump was acquitted on a 57-43 vote. Conviction requires a two-thirds majority, or 67 votes.
All seven GOP senators are facing backlash from Republicans in their home states, just as Romney did when he was the only Republican to vote to remove Trump from office in his first impeachment trial.
Romney “embarrassed” Utah with that vote in 2020, according to the petition cited by various news outlets.
The petition, which appears to have hundreds of signers, does not say who is behind the censure.
The Utah GOP issued a statement Monday saying both Utah senators have been criticized for their votes. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, voted to acquit Trump and argued that it’s unconstitutional to try a former president in an impeachment trial.
“The differences between our own Utah Republicans showcase a diversity of thought, in contrast to the danger of a party fixated on ‘unanimity of thought,’” according to the statement. “There is power in our differences as a political party, and we look forward to each senator explaining their votes to the people of Utah.”
Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah, said the GOP statement shows the right way to support elected leaders with differing perspectives. He voted against impeaching Trump in January.
“The term ‘diversity of thought’ is a great way to capture what the GOP needs to win hearts and minds in future elections with aspirational, pro-growth, and inclusive policies,” he tweeted.
As I expected, Utah shows the proper way to support elected leaders with differing perspectives. The term “diversity of thought” is a great way to capture what the GOP needs to win hearts and minds in future elections with aspirational, pro-growth, and inclusive policies. #utpol https://t.co/8mvWHInnqX— Blake D. Moore (@ElectBlakeMoore) February 15, 2021
Romney said after the Senate vote that Trump tried to corrupt the election by pressuring the Georgia secretary of state to falsify the election results and incited the insurrection against Congress during the counting of electoral votes. The former president also violated his oath of office by failing to protect the Capitol, the vice president and others in the Capitol.
Lee said House managers failed to prove the Senate should impeach Trump and also failed to prove that Trump was responsible for inciting an insurrection. Lee said he doesn’t condone Trump’s “actions and omissions” on Jan. 6, but the word “incitement” has a very specific meaning in the law and his words and actions fell short of that standard.
The Utah GOP statement said disagreement is natural and healthy in a party that is based on principles — not on persona.
“As 2021 begins, we look neither to the past, nor to be punitive,” according to the statement.
The petition condemns Romney for voting to continue the “unconstitutional impeachment trial” and to allow witnesses after House managers had previously declined to call witnesses before the House impeachment vote.
The document says Utah Republican Party leadership has failed to issue a censure, so “be it resolved the undersigned voters, censure Sen. Willard Mitt Romney.”
The other Republican senators who voted to convict Trump have been censured or face formal censure or condemnation from party leaders in their states.
In 2020, state GOP lawmakers filed a censure resolution aimed at Romney and a bill that would give Utah voters the ability to recall their U.S. senators. After a closed-door meeting, Utah House Republicans scrapped both measures in favor of a citation thanking Trump “for all the great things he’s done for the state of Utah.”