“My Open Grave”: Mitt Romney And Why Washington Admires Bipartisanship . . . At A Distance

Below is my column in the Washington Post on the vote of Mitt Romney and how his independence is a virtue celebrated selectively by the political establishment and the media. One thing that should unite everyone is the inexcusable attack on Romney’s reference to his faith by President Trump. Romney grew emotional on the Senate floor when he dismissed the “unimaginable” attacks as paling in comparison to what he would lose by violating an oath to God.  Trump responded at the National Prayer Breakfast by declaring.” “I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong.” The one thing that I never thought would be questioned is the faith of Mitt Romney, who not only is widely known as a deeply religious Mormon but has been discussed as a possible head of the Mormon Church.  I have never been a fan of Romney’s policies, particularly his environmental policies (which are in line with Trump).  However, I have never heard anyone suggest that Mitt Romney’s faith is anything but genuine and heartfelt. I have no problem with Trump attacking the merits of his decision but the attack on his motivation is well beyond the pale.

Here is the column:

Mitt Romney no longer has to guess about what “unimaginable” consequences are in store for him after the Utah senator voted to convict President Trump of abuse of power: A Utah legislator has moved to censure him; Donald Trump Jr. has called for Romney to be expelled from the Republican Party; and the National Prayer Breakfast (and later White House press conference)  turned into a Romney rage-fest, as the president insulted both the senator’s ethics and his faith.

Romney grew emotional on the Senate floor on Wednesday, when he explained that whatever waited for him in terms of political retribution for his vote would pale in comparison to what he would lose by violating “an oath to God.”

Trump responded at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday by declaring, “I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong.”

In reality, Romney is precisely what the Framers expected in a senator. He voted his conscience by voting first in favor of the abuse-of-power charge and then against the obstruction-of-Congress charge. Romney’s decision did not make him right, but what should be clear to even the most jaundiced eye is that he believes himself to be right.

This rare profile in courage might have surprised others, but it did not surprise me — though I admit there was a time when it would have. Many years ago, I had little regard for Romney. During his 2012 presidential campaign, I had come to view him as just another plastic-fantastic candidate with scripted answers for every question.

But my view of Romney changed in October 2011, as I was flying back to Washington from Oklahoma, when Romney plopped down in the seat next to me on the plane. I had watched at the departure gate as people spontaneously went up to him, literally grabbing him for pictures and hanging arms around his neck. Romney remained incredibly polite and patient with each and every person.

Once on board, we soon got to talking and I assured him that our conversation would be off-the-record. I noted that I would not want his life. When you are a politician, people often think they have a claim to your body and soul. But once we were in the air, Romney seemed to relax; a less robotic Romney emerged.

Over the course of that conversation, I discovered something I didn’t expect: a genuinely thoughtful and candid man — very different from the stiff and sometimes detached persona I observed from watching the campaign.

That flight came to mind when Trump tweeted this week that Romney, as the GOP nominee, could have defeated President Barack Obama in 2012 had he shown the same “energy and anger” he had shown on the Senate floor in casting his vote. It was partially true. When we got off that flight, I was convinced that Romney was a better man than he was a candidate.

The Democrats are correct to celebrate Romney’s vote as an act of conscience. But this ignores one fact and obscures a second: First, Romney’s conscience not only led him to vote to convict on the abuse-of-power charge, it also led him to reject the impeachment article based on obstruction of Congress. That second article was deeply flawed. Yet, no Democrat joined Romney in that vote of good conscience.

More importantly, Romney’s willingness to depart from the party line was no more evident among his Democratic colleagues than it was among his fellow Republicans. Indeed, even though Democratic members such as Sen. Doug Jones (Ala.) indicated that it was a struggle to understand the basis for the obstruction allegation, all stuck with the party line. Not exactly a Romney-esque profile in courage.

At the same time, the media does not celebrate defections from the Democratic ranks the way it did for Romney’s declaration of independence. I do not recall seeing the same kind of adoring coverage showered on Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), who voted “present” on both articles of impeachment, or on Reps. Collin C. Peterson (Minn.) and Jeff Van Drew (N.J.), both of whom voted against impeachment. Rep. Jared Golden (Maine) cast the same split vote in the House as Romney did in the Senate, but received either criticism or crickets in the media.

Finally, the historical record of Democratic voting on impeachment is anything but bipartisan. They voted as a bloc to acquit President Andrew Johnson (who was a Democrat and later a National Union party member). They voted as a bloc again during the Clinton impeachment more than 130 years later. In the Trump impeachment, they continued that perfectly partisan record by voting as a bloc for conviction. Bipartisanship remains a virtue respected primarily in the opposing party.

The first time the United States endured an impeachment trial, Sen. Edmund Ross of Kansas, one of the seven Republicans who voted to acquit Johnson, described the experience as “literally [looking] down into my open grave.”

Ross, like Romney, jumped — to the applause of opposing party. In the Senate, self-sacrifice remains an act best admired from a distance.

122 thoughts on ““My Open Grave”: Mitt Romney And Why Washington Admires Bipartisanship . . . At A Distance”

  1. Professor Turley’s assessment of Mitt Romney is correct. I was looking for a split vote from Sen. Joe Manchin, D WVa. and it never came. In the total scope of the vote, Romney’s was inconsequential at best. In fact he should never have had to vote.
    Nancy Pelosi prayerfully lied to the American people when she declared impeachment would only be legitimate if it was bipartisan.
    The senate should never have seen any articles of impeachment.

  2. Mitt has more hate in his heart than he can handle.It seems like he had rather have a Baby killer in the White House than who the American people chose. Any one who votes for the Democrats. Are not really understanding what they are voting for. ABORTION, NO ICE,OPEN BORTERS, Just look at all the corruption that has been exposed since the election .We would not have known about any of that if HRC had been elected. WHAT I CAN NOT UNDERSTAND IS WHY J.T. IS STILL A DEMOCRAT. He is one of our most intelligent people that I have ever seen on TV and read his post. Why J.T???

    1. I see J.T as an independent as I am. Republicans and dems are kicking the can down the road on debt and for that I despise both.

  3. The day Romney was to vote he had an “exclusive” interview first with Chris Wallace who had to agree to keep it quiet until after he spoke on the Senate floor. He and his office also timed exclusive media pieces in The Atlantic, and the New York Times, and granted the interviews on the condition that they would be embargoed until he took to the floor. In all three interviews he talked about his decision and his place in history.

    Mike Lee said Romney told him he was going to vote to acquit the day before. Did the Republicans not learn about his decision until he spoke on the floor? It all seems so premeditated and wouldn’t a man of faith have kept his own decision private between himself and God until he spoke.

    There are five very vulnerable Republican Senators running for election this year and Friday night on Fox, several House Republicans said the Democrats are going to use Romney’s decision to go after those senators who voted for acquittal. His single act could finish him off forever if the Senate falls into Schumer’s hands. Once the Democrats use him his day in the sun with them will end too.

  4. I’m beyond thrilled to see what becomes of the reaction to Mitt as time moves on. While I didn’t vote for him in ’12 I’ve always thought of him as a generous listener, who, by the way, was not above jumping in the water in Mass. to save people in trouble. Always felt bad that in order to get the Republican nomination he had to disown his most successful political achievement as governor in order to get it.

    I read his vote(s) as him knowing that basically Trump was who the impeachment process was written for but not as much of a fan of how the particular case was put before him.

    I mean, we’re probably not that far away from Lindsey Graham being taped as saying he never knew Trump…, so anything could happen. Ha.

    1. Willard the “Rat” Romney has cemented his station in life as an American Hating Commie/Nazi piece of Trash just like his Daddy.

      You see his daddy & his comrade, flow Trotskite, stabbed Barry Goldwater/Reagan in the back when Goldwater was running against that American Hating Commie/Nazi LBJ.

      Father like the son, we should kick the Romney family’s azz’es back down to Mexico where they came from.

      Then there’s Romney’s legal problem’s related to Ukrainian corruption.

      Then there’s also Romey’s religion involving the sacrifice of yet to be born kids to Molich for Lucifer through his Name Brand lead company Bain Capital.

      Lastly Prof Turley may need to get glasses & a hearing or maybe a cane so he can stumble along in the dark about important issues?

      This link may be part of some ref mat?

      I was looking for the War Room w/Owen Shoyer, he had a fill in guest. 1/27/20 between 43:00 in & I think 1:12;00.

      Anyway here another kink that may work:


      1. Interesting take. Big logical holes, but interesting. Plays both sides, “Mitch is a turtle faced cuck” somehow coexisting with the idea he’s blocking witnesses to make T look bad.

    2. ” Always felt bad that in order to get the Republican nomination he had to disown his most successful political achievement as governor in order to get it.”

      Elvis, can you tell us what he had to disown?

  5. I guess Romney missed the memo about the treaty between the US and Ukraine requiring mutual cooperation in criminal investigations.

  6. Mitt was an ineffective candidate for President and now he will become an ineffective Senator. I do not think he has ever gotten over not being given the job of Sec of State. However, he can do what he wants. Still, I am with the President about prayer and Nancy Pelosi.

    1. Paul, if Mitt were an honest person that stood by his beliefs he would never have wanted to work for Trump in the first place because he already had these dumb ideas in his head. He wanted the job because he was an opportunist who would kiss A$$ if he had to and change who he was in order to further his needs.

      What I want to see is the dog driving the car and Mitt on the roof.

    2. Paul C……do you think Laura Ingraham was serious Friday night when she said she might move to Utah and run against Mitt? She made another reference to living in Utah on Thursday night.
      Maybe she has a new beau …(from Utah?)

      1. Cindy Bragg – I don’t think Mitt’s term is up for 5 years, so she has time to make up her mind. However, she photoshopped herself in those red rock photos, 😉

  7. The key word when it comes to Romney is “Mormon.” Do a study of the history of Mormons and find out what they actually believe, which includes direct revelation from God. There was a reason Mormons were run out of Illinois and Missouri to what became Utah, and why Romney’s grandparents went to Mexico. There is “faith” and then there is faith and they are not the same.

  8. Actually the nicest thing you could say about Mitt is that he is a vengeful weasel. Because the other alternative is that he a moron. A sucker. Let me present you a visual image of that Mitt. There is a Good Wrestler in the ring beating the crap out of a Bad Wrestler. The kind of dude who hits other wrestlers over the head with folding metal chairs. Anyway, the Good Wrestler has the Bad Wrestler on the mat, and the Bad Wrestler gets to his knees and is begging not to be hit or suflexed again. He stretches his hand out to the Good Wrestler, for him to take, and shake his hand. The Good Wrestler goes over and takes his hand and promptly gets socked in the nuts. That is the alternative for Mitt if he is not a vengeful weasel.

    Look at what Mitt said, “Given that in neither the case of the father nor the son was any evidence presented by the President’s counsel that a crime had been committed, the President’s insistence that they be investigated by the Ukrainians is hard to explain other than as a political pursuit. ”

    Huh??? That is the whole point Mitt. There is no evidence at this point because there has been no investigation. Frigging DUH! If the Ukrainians or the U.S. investigates, then there can evidence of innocence or guilt. Not before. See, that wasn’t “hard to explain”, Mitt. But what did Good Old Honest Mitt say about the Mueller Report and the whole Russiagate crap. Did Mitt say back then that “a lack of evidence made that “hard to explain other than as a political pursuit”??? Oh Hell no! Here is what Saint Mittens said back then:
    “I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the President. I am also appalled that, among other things, fellow citizens working in a campaign for president welcomed help from Russia,”
    Huh, Part Deux??? The Mueller Report cleared the President. There was none of that “evidence” that supposedly means so much to Mitt. So did Mitt call the whole smear job a political pursuit??? And remember this is after the country found out that Hillary paid for the Steele Dossier, after the FBI misdeeds had come to light, after the Inspector Generals had started in and all the various lies were starting to pop out in the press, and after there was plenty of public info available about the FISA abuses. Nope. Not happening. Even after the release of the Inspector General’s report, did Mitt With The Halo come out and apologize for his previous remarks. Nope. All that “evidence” didn’t even make a dent in old Mitt’s position.

    So if you want to take from this that Mitt is someone to admire, then knock yourself out. But I think he is a vengeful weasel.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. Squeaky, when you get rid of this well designed facade of Romney’s there is little left than the face of a weasel and worse. You hit the nail on the head and though most didn’t see it, it was obvious over his decades in government..

      1. Thank you! Plus, I think you are right that Mitt just put one over on Prof.Turley. Heck, I voted for Mittens, and McCain because I could not stand Obama, and now I wish I had just not voted period.

        Squeeky Fromm
        Girl Reporter

  9. “I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong.”
    Faith informs behavior. It is the knowing that it is wrong — claiming the means justify the ends — that is problematic.
    Because complete disagreement may occur in matters of faith what is judged as wrong may vary wildly. Suicide bombers believe their faith justifies their actions and so is right, not wrong.
    I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing anything. I don’t care about your religion; it is not mine. I judge not your faith but your actions. Are you honorable? Do you mean your oaths?
    Judge not by the color of their religion, but by the content of their character. Do judge their behavior; actions speak loudly.

  10. ” I discovered something I didn’t expect: a genuinely thoughtful and candid man “

    Professor, even the experts are terrible at picking out liars because most of us are wired to believe what people say. Based on your previous references I think your abilities might be worse than average. If you don’t believe the first statement look at our intelligence services and ask yourself why they could not discover their own moles when after the fact it seemed totally clear. Some of those moles were moving upwards in the ranks of our intelligence agencies.

    In my one short discussion with Romney I found myself stuck wanting to believe in him because the alternative to him was so bad but my immediate thought was that he was a good liar and manipulator. Think of that. He convinced you Professor Turley.

  11. Here we go again! Jonathan, where was Romney’s God when he deceived the public and used a second tweeter account using the name “Pierre Delecto” to post comments that he wasn’t honest enough or bold enough to express using his real name?

    He wanted attention and this was his way of getting it. He sat through the bogus hearings the Dems brought to the Senate floor. He now wants to hide his bitterness by invoking God. I’m not an attorney, but placing the burden of proof onPresident Trump to prove his innocence is not how the law works.

    I despise the way President Trump is demonized because he has a point of view and most importantly, he HAS FEELINGS TOO. He and his family have been tortured and persecuted since he took office. He has a right to lash out at those who insist on continuing their hate-filled attitude. I voted for him because we NEEDED a disruptor in the WH and that is what we got!

    I pray God protects this President, continues to bless him and give him the strength he needs to continue four more years of exposing the liars, cheats, power-addicted unethical politicians in D.C.

    I pray for his family that stands by him and those patriots in his administration who truly believe in the President’s goal for America and his love for his country,

    He’s done more for the working class than any president I can remember.

    People like Romney should be there to support and encourage a true patriot like millions upon millions of us and the millions more that will turn out to vote for him in 2020. This President adamant about SAVING OUR COUNTRY! FOUR MORE YEARS WITH THE GRACE OF GOD.

    1. Blindy standing by a corrupt and criminal President does NOT make you a patriot, it makes you a accomplice.

      1. “it makes you a accomplice.”

        FishWings, that makes you an accomplice of the scandalous Obama administration and a co-conspirator in Clinton’s sexual misconduct. What an awful woman you must be.

      2. Blindly standing by corrupt political hit jobs and hoaxes and lies, and a corrupt Democrat party, with its corrupt political leadership, and corrupt candidates like Joe Biden, does NOT make you a patriot, Fishy. Are you suggesting that my love for our country and my support for Trump is not as true and valid as your blind support for ANY Democrat today? Please stop.

      3. Oh and Fishy, name one “criminal” charge presented in the impeachment articles for President Trump. Just one. There were none. Why not Fishy? No crimes charged? How can that be?

        Blindly going along with the Democrat/media hoaxes and lies does not make you a patriot Fishy, it makes you an accomplice.

        1. As we know, “criminal” charges are not required for articles of impeachment. And Justice Dept. guidelines block indictment of a sitting president. Mueller cited that reality and individual One is quite grateful for it. Or at least aware of it.

          1. There are other views and opinions that say Mueller could have reached an opinion and declared whether he thought charges were necessary. He did not. It was Mueller’s decision to hide behind the DOJ rule. He frustrated many on both sides with his failure to make a determination regardless of whether indictments could be brought. This was exposed during the hearings.

            1. All the people who say Trump is guilty have testified under oath. All the people who say Trump is innocent have refused to testify under oath. And yet, Trump supporters claim there is no proof.

              1. Proof they testified? Plenty of proof there. Did their testimony prove the allegations? Nope. But thanks for acknowledging the House Managers thought they enough witnesses, until they realized they didn’t have a case after all.

              2. “All the people who say Trump is guilty have testified under oath.”

                Yes, they testified and I believe them that they didn’t like Trump’s policy. However, only one person testified as to the facts of the case and he said no quid pro quo.

                There is no proof. There are however, policy differences and the American people voted for Trump not those witnesses.

                Do you not understand the concept of proof?

                1. The electoral college gave Trump a win, not the popular vote. Who is the one person that testified to the facts of the case that said no quid pro quo? Are we not counting Sondland’s testimony?

                  1. Elvis – the Electoral College elected Trump, they did not “give him the win.” Hillary lost the Electoral College, which is what you have to win to be elected,

                    Now, if you are following the Democratic primaries, you will see the Democrats are using an Electoral College system to pick their Presidential nominee.They were showing the split of the Electoral votes coming out of Iowa (which is being challenged).

                    As for Sondland. After his testimony, which I watched all of, he was clearly a loose cannon in over his head. He really needed to be replaced.

                  2. Elvis, the electoral college was an important part of our republic and though today the delegates are no longer needed the electoral college system of voting offers some good checks and balances along with being important in preventing the tyranny of the majority. Pure democracy is a bad system of government and that is why we are a Constitutional Republic. In the kind of system the left wants desires 2 fox and 1 chicken would be voting on what to have for dinner.

                    Winning the popular vote means gearing a campaign towards the popular vote and if that was the system Trump could have won the popular vote. One should learn to deal with the system that exists not the system that could be.

                    The question being investigated (a wrong question to be investigated) was quid pro quo. Only one witness was a fact witness, Sondland, and he said no quid pro. Quid pro quo is how agreements work and is usual in government so the whole impeachment based on quid pro quo wasa ridiculous. The country benefitted from Trump’s action and there was no claims of bribery on his part.

  12. Mitt’s knife in the back to not just Trump but all Republicans who came to a different conclusion, based on the same flimsy accusations, reminds me of one John McCain who did the same thing on a different issue, with glee, I might add. I despise John McCain as much as Mitt Romney. Donald Trump looks like a powerful giant compared side by side with these two very weak men.

    1. “Donald Trump looks like a powerful giant compared side by side with these two very weak men.”

      President Bone-Spurs is as brave as they come. /sarc

  13. 5b524043e9


  14. Trump did not “attack his motivation”. The president said, “I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong.” The impeachment was wrong on both a procedure level, which you Professor Turley have argued and on the evidence given acquittal. The procedure and evidence were “wrong”. Romney was criticized for being wrong not for his religion.

  15. I always thought his father George was a good man. But Mitt made his fortune as a particularly reckless and amoral corporate raider and has basically shown himself to be completely unprincipled. That has nothing to do with him being a Mormon, obviously, but lying, cheating and dissembling on a grand scale do not appear to bother him in the slightest so long as he benefits. In fact, his deviation from his father’s conduct is a generational parable.

    1. But Mitt made his fortune as a particularly reckless and amoral corporate raider

      I think you’ve confused him with Boone Pickens. Mitt ran a private equity firm. Private equity is the last station on the line that runs to bankruptcy court.

      1. Absolutely right. Although Romney was a very poor juror and made a foolish decision on a clearly partisan and squishy charge of abuse of power, his business was one that is very misunderstood. The Democrats painted a picture of a person who bought businesses just to fire people.
        In truth, he saved jobs, because if his firm didn’t buy the business, they would have been gone and “all” the workers would have lost their jobs.
        So, in that respect, he was unfairly criticized by the media and the Democrats.
        But, his vote to remove Trump from office, on a charge on a charge with no substance, was a vote that will forever live in “infamy.”

  16. Prof. Turley you are mistaken. I recall the best sermon I ever heard which opened with, “I used to pray for my children to be successful. Now I pray for them to be aware. This is far more important.” I despise Mitt Romney for failing to be AWARE of his human-ness. He pretends that his contempt for Trump has no role, but that contempt simmering in his heart distorts his judgment. A person of genuine faith has enough humility to account for his or her biases. Romney failed as a moral, religious, and political leader.

  17. Sorry Prof. Turley, I am not buying the bipartisan, independent, Mitt. The key factor to me was that he failed to even address the evidence itself preferring to just pronounce guilt and pontificate on his “deeply religious” nature.
    I am a Christian. Since my religious beliefs are based in faith, they have no place in a discussion of facts other than to state that I take my oath seriously. Mitt employed on of the favorite tactics of morally bankrupt people. Among them are tears, public agonizing, and appeals to God.
    Unless and until Mitt addresses the evidence presented and gives his rationale for deducing that it proved that allegations, I can only conclude that he is still bitter from the remarks Trump made about him. Trump asserted that Mitt would have “dropped to his knees” in order to get his backing. It looks like nothing more than payback from a bitter alienated man who decided to drop to his knees for Schumer instead.
    Of course if Mitt can point to evidence showing that Trump directed the pressure on Ukraine for the purpose of harming his political opponents only, I am more than willing to consider it.

    1. Romney’s decision to carpetbag to Utah and run for Congress makes no contextual sense. If he’s not there to harass the President, what’s he there for?

        1. Using his position as Senator to do damage to Trump every chance he gets. You are correct.

      1. DSS, one should look at old videos. I love watching Schumer tell us why we needed witnesses at the impeachment trial. Then I look at the old videos under Clinton and he is just as convincing telling us why we don’t need witnesses at the impeachment trial. Some of the most pious people have done some of the most heinous things. Instead of looking at them totally undressed we look at the facade and judge their truthfulness based on the facade rather than who they really are.

        Mitt Sucks.

        1. Sort of disconcerting. You have seven presidential elections in which the Republican Party nominates one of a list of five men. For a period of eight years, two of the men had nothing to say about the Obama administration’s most egregious abuses (while allowing Bill Clinton to slither into their social circle, something Jimmy Carter did not allow). If you can find an example of the other two making an issue of anything after 2012, let me know. Three of the four are awakened from their slumbers in 2016 just in time to throw darts at the Republican presidential nominee (while Paul Ryan played the dithering nincompoop; DJT and the fourth are explicitly contemptuous of each other, btw). I’m beginning to get an idea of why the history of the Republican Party since 1991 has been one of failure theatre (bar a brief, shining moment under Newt Gingrich, a vessel as flawed as DJT). Bob Dole is the only Republican champion of the last generation who hasn’t made a hobby of trying to embarrass the President.

  18. Romney was wrong and used the House mangers very biased, flawed evidence and lies and then he added his faith to help justify is vote. He hates Trump, he hated Trump prior and after the election, he is jealous of Trump.

    The House Mangers used a Kangaroo and corrupt court. They only produced evidence that they sought to impeach.

    He had told Mike Lee he was going to vote to acquit and blind sided Mc Connel, Romney is a liar.

    Romney is an attention getter he loves the lights and cameras and being the center of attention.

    Romney should RESIGN for he was wrong, wrong on the law, wrong on the facts and etc. The Voters of Utah will send him packing a one Term Senator. He thinks he is an alternative to Trump.

    MITT RESIGN and go away

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