One day after he cast his historic vote to remove President Donald Trump office, Utah Senator and former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has continued to receive accolades for his principled and lonely stand. But Romney didn’t merely buck his Party of Lincoln in becoming the first Senator to ever vote to convict an impeached president from his own party. As it turns out, the would-have-been 45th President made his case by summoning some of the finest rhetoric from the 16th.

In his powerful and moving speech, Senator Romney warned that President Trump’s corrupt actions posed a threat to American democracy. As he explained to Atlantic staff writer and fellow Mormon McKay Coppins, Trump’s “egregious an act against the Constitution—and one's oath” is “what autocrats do.” And taking one’s oath seriously, especially during a time of national peril, mattered very much to Mitt Romney. “As a senator-juror, I swore an oath before God to exercise impartial justice,” Romney declared. “I take an oath before God as enormously consequential.”

But my promise before God to apply impartial justice required that I put my personal feelings and political biases aside. Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history’s rebuke and the censure of my own conscience.

I’m aware that there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision, and in some quarters I will be vehemently denounced. I’m sure to hear abuse from the president and his supporters. Does anyone seriously believe that I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?

If the courage to deny Trump’s GOP the unanimity it routinely demands is increasingly rare, so, too, is fidelity to the namesake of the Party of Lincoln. And in remarks on Wednesday, Romney echoed Abraham Lincoln during another time of peril to the Union.

  • February 7, 2020