In the wake of reports that former National Security Adviser John Bolton‘s book confirms Donald Trump‘s alleged actions that sparked the impeachment probe, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney is reportedly making the push to hear from witnesses.
According to Politico, Romney broke with his party and “made a strong pitch” to hear from witnesses during a closed-door meeting with Senate Republicans on Monday. This push runs contrary to the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is allegedly urging his colleagues to wait until Trump’s defense concludes its presentation and the question-and-answer session finishes.
Romney is allegedly arguing that the best way to address the Democrat and Republicans’ issues at the heart of the impeachment trial is to hear from the people who were directly involved with the president’s controversial Ukraine foreign policy.
“It has been pointed out so far by both the House managers as well the defense that there has not been evidence of a direct nature of what the president may have said or what his motives were or what he did. The article in the New York Times I think made it pretty clear that [Bolton] has some information that may be relevant. And I’d like to hear relevant information before I made a final decision.”
Romney’s position has sparked criticism from some colleagues, including Sen. David Perdue and Sen. Rick Scott. Regardless, while some accuse the former Republican presidential nominee of pandering to the left, he has acknowledged that some compromise would be necessary to hear from Bolton. In particular, he said that Trump’s defense would likely need to be provided with an opportunity to hear from witnesses as well.
Mitt Romney is a freshman Senator. He can't take on President @realDonaldTrump and win. He should be focused on solving problems for our country — not trying to create conflicts within his own party. pic.twitter.com/xxQtdn3EQ8
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) January 3, 2019
Romney previously said that the Bolton allegation warrants further investigation and claimed his other GOP colleagues are likely interested in hearing the former White House official’s testimony. Although Romney did not provide names, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has said that the Bolton allegations have increased her interest in hearing from witnesses and sparked conversations about the possibility among her colleagues.
Even South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has been an ardent support of Trump amid the impeachment probe, said he might be interested in calling witnesses. However, like Romney, he suggested that such a scenario would only be possible if Trump can call witnesses of his own.
Whether Bolton testifies or not, one senior Trump administration official said that it wouldn’t be because of Romney, noting the friction between Bolton and the president.
“He’s doing what he’s already doing. It’s personal,” the official said.