A top Republican senator changed his mind and voted to acquit Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, for inciting the U.S. Capitol riot, over safety fears for his family, according to a new book about Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah).
In an excerpt from McKay Coppins’ upcoming “Romney: A Reckoning” published in The Atlantic, the author detailed how Republican lawmakers’ concerns about political backlash for opposing Trump morphed into a “more existential brand of cowardice” following the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.
During the Senate trial of the then-president, Coppins wrote, an unnamed member of the Republican leadership told Romney “he was leaning toward voting to convict” but “the others urged him to reconsider.”
“‘You can’t do that,’ Romney recalled someone saying. ‘Think of your personal safety, said another. Think of your children.’ The senator eventually decided they were right,” Coppins added.
A GOP congressman had earlier told Romney he chose not to vote for Trump’s second impeachment “out of fear of his family’s safety.”
“The congressman reasoned that Trump would be impeached by House Democrats with or without him — why put his wife and children at risk if it wouldn’t change the outcome?” Coppins wrote.
On Wednesday, Romney, a fierce critic of Trump, announced he would not be seeking reelection in 2024.
“Frankly, it’s time for a new generation of leaders,” the 2012 Republican presidential nominee and former governor of Massachusetts said in a video shared on X. “They’re the ones that need to make the decisions that will shape the world they will be living in.”
“The next generation of leaders must take America to the next stage of global leadership,” he added.
Romney said the prospect of Trump, the 2024 Republican front-runner, becoming the party’s nominee hadn’t influenced him.
“I think the people of Utah don’t always agree with me regarding the posture I took toward Donald Trump, but they respect people who vote their conscience,” he told HuffPost. “I don’t have any question in my mind I’d have won if I’d run again.”