Utah newspaper praises Romney’s vote to convict Trump

A top Salt Lake City newspaper on Wednesday evening lauded Sen. Mitt Romney for “doing the right thing” by voting to remove President Donald Trump from office.

“Mitt Romney could have ducked this one,” wrote the editorial board of The Salt Lake Tribune, but the 2012 GOP presidential nominee “couldn’t explain it to his conscience” and “could not avert his eyes from the fact that this president had, without a shadow of a doubt, abused his power as commander and chief.”

The editorial board argued that all Utahns and Americans, “regardless of politics, ideology or religion should be duly impressed with Romney’s decision to follow his heart and his conscience — and his God — in doing the right thing when doing the right thing was difficult.”

Romney, a devout Mormon, frequently invoked his faith in a brief speech from the Senate floor on Wednesday afternoon, when he announced his intention to vote in favor of the first House impeachment article charging Trump with abuse of power.

Already a strong Republican critic of the administration, Romney acknowledged the fierce onslaught he expected to receive from his own party as the only GOP lawmaker to break ranks and vote to convict the president.

“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,” he said in his prepared remarks. “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?”

The editorial board noted that Romney knew his decision would not change the outcome of the ultimate vote by the Senate — which acquitted Trump of both impeachment articles Wednesday afternoon — and acknowledged that the president “is in a position … to make life very difficult for Romney going forward.”

Romney has been subjected to numerous attacks by the White House and its conservative allies in the hours since casting his vote in the Senate impeachment trial, with the president weighing in Thursday morning.

“Had failed presidential candidate @MittRomney devoted the same energy and anger to defeating a faltering Barack Obama as he sanctimoniously does to me, he could have won the election,” Trump tweeted. “Read the Transcripts!”

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AOC, Ayanna Pressley to skip Trump’s SOTU address

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts on Tuesday afternoon both announced their intention to boycott President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address later that evening — joining a handful of other House Democrats in skipping the annual speech to a joint session of Congress.

“The State of the Union is hurting because of the occupant of the White House, who consistently demonstrates contempt for the American people, contempt for Congress & contempt for our constitution,” Pressley wrote on Twitter. “I cannot in good conscience attend tonight’s sham.”

Minutes later, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that she had reached a similar conclusion, writing that she would “not use [her] presence at a state ceremony to normalize Trump’s lawless conduct & subversion of the Constitution.”

“None of this is normal, and I will not legitimize it,” Ocasio-Cortez added, characterizing her decision as “deeply personal” and as a “choice I did not take lightly.”

Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley are members of the so-called squad of progressive freshman congresswomen who have become frequent targets of conservative media and have sought to push the Democratic House majority to pursue more-liberal policy proposals.

Last summer, Trump leveled a series of vitriolic attacks against the four lawmakers of color — Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan are the other two — when he asserted in tweets that they should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” All are U.S. citizens, and three were born in major American cities.

Omar, whom Trump has particularly relished disparaging in recent months, said on Tuesday that she would break with Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley, tweeting about her plans to appear for the president’s speech.

“I am attending tonight’s address not to confer any legitimacy on his actions, his statements, or his presidency,” Omar wrote. “I am attending on behalf of all of those targeted by this President to say, ‘We are greater than hate.’ My presence tonight is resistance.”

Tlaib signaled she would show up, as well, tweeting on Monday the names of her State of the Union guests.

But a trio of other House Democrats said they would snub Trump’s address for the third year in a row: Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, Steve Cohen of Tennessee and Frederica Wilson of Florida. Two more, Al Green of Texas and Hank Johnson of Georgia, also confirmed that they would not attend the speech.

Trump’s remarks in the Capitol on Tuesday night will come amid his impeachment trial, with senators likely to acquit him largely along party lines in a vote slated for Wednesday afternoon. The president is expected to use his speech as another platform to promote his 2020 reelection effort, touting the strength of the economy under his administration.

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Dershowitz attempts to clarify controversial argument about presidential powers

Alan Dershowitz, an attorney for President Donald Trump, on Thursday claimed the media twisted his words when he made the controversial legal argument that a president could engage in a quid pro quo for personal political benefit as long as the president believes his or her reelection is in the public interest.

In a series of a dozen tweets, the former Harvard law professor and prominent criminal defense attorney claimed that “CNN, MSNBC and some other media willfully distorted my answers” from Wednesday’s Senate impeachment trial proceedings, when lawmakers began posing questions to the White House defense team and the House impeachment managers.

“They characterized my argument as if I had said that if a president believes that his re-election was in the national interest, he can do anything. I said nothing like that, as anyone who actually heard what I said can attest,” Dershowitz wrote, going on to clarify his remarks before the chamber.

Responding to a question about how presidents conduct foreign policy, Dershowitz asserted Wednesday that “every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest.” Therefore, he continued, “if a president did something that he believes will help him get elected — in the public interest — that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.”

But tweeting Thursday, Dershowitz insisted that he “did not say or imply that a candidate could do anything to reassure his reelection, only that seeking help in an election is not necessarily corrupt.” Concluding his string of posts, he wrote: “Critics have an obligation to respond to what I said, not to create straw men to attack.”

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