Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) is not running for re-election. Before he goes, however, he’s letting the whole world know what he saw in the U.S. Senate. McKay Coppins has put together his interviews of Romney and Romney’s records to give the senator’s perspective of what occurred in Washington D.C. during the Trump Era in a book called, “Romney, a Reckoning.”
In excerpts published in The Atlantic, Romney’s recollections present unflattering portraits of two prominent Wisconsin politicians, Sen. Ron Johnson and former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
Ryan was Romney’s running mate in the 2012 race for the White House against President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. In “Romney, a Reckoning,” Romney remembers the unsolicited advice he received from Ryan regarding the first impeachment of President Donald Trump.
Shortly before 2 p.m. on the day of the vote, Romney left his office and walked to the Capitol, where he waited in his hideaway for his turn to speak. Minutes before going on the floor, he received an unexpected call on his cellphone. It was Paul Ryan. Romney and his team had kept a tight lid on how he planned to vote, but somehow his former running mate had gotten word that he was about to detonate his political career. Romney had been less judgmental of Ryan’s acquiescence to Trump than he’d been of most other Republicans’. He believed Ryan was a sincere guy who’d simply misjudged Trump.
And yet, here was Ryan on the phone, making the same arguments Romney had heard from some of his more calculating colleagues. Ryan told him that voting to convict Trump would make Romney an outcast in the party, that many of the people who’d tried to get him elected president would never speak to him again, and that he’d struggle to pass any meaningful legislation. Ryan said that he respected Romney, and wanted to make absolutely sure he’d thought through the repercussions of his vote. Romney assured him that he had, and said goodbye.
Ryan has said he will not vote for Trump in the 2024 election.
After Trump’s departure from the White House, and the second impeachment trial, Romney still tried to work with his Republican colleagues, including Johnson.
In some ways, Romney settled most fully into his role as a senator once Trump was gone. He joined a bipartisan “gang” of lawmakers who actually seemed to enjoy legislating, and helped pass a few bills he was proud of.
He even tried to work productively within his caucus. Romney drew a distinction between the Republican colleagues he viewed as sincerely crazy and those who were faking it for votes. He was open, for instance, to partnering with Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, the conspiracy-spouting, climate-change-denying, anti-vax Trump disciple, because while he could be exasperating—once, Romney told me, after listening to an extended lecture on Hunter Biden’s Ukrainian business dealings, he blurted, “Ron, is there any conspiracy you don’t believe?”—you could at least count on his good faith.
In July, Johnson said it was possible the government was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and said Congress should investigate “Epstein Island,” among other conspiracy theories Johnson has endorsed.