Updated 1:39 p.m. MST 2/6/2020
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, met with Republican leadership in the Utah House and Senate Thursday to explain his vote to convict President Donald Trump on the first of two articles of impeachment.
“It actually took a lot of courage to do that in the wake of what happened, primarily because many of us here are disappointed with what happened yesterday,” said Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson, adding that he didn’t think the meeting was an indication that Romney is concerned about his relationship with state leaders.
Wilson called Thursday’s conversation “very frank” and said that Romney explained his decision making process and stood by his vote.
“I think he’s got a good understanding of where we’re coming from and we’ve got a better understanding of where he’s coming from,” Wilson said, adding that he wasn’t worried about retribution from the White House on Utah.
“President Trump has been a tremendous, tremendous ally for the citizens of Utah and we’ve got a great relationship with the White House and will continue to work closely with them,” Wilson said.
Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, is introducing a joint resolution to censure Romney, which Wilson said the Caucus would discuss next week.
“[Romney] went against the grain and I appreciate his conviction on that,” Lyman said. “But the message that comes from that sends a different message than I want to send to the President which is that we really support him.”
Rep. Tim Quinn, R-Heber City, introduced a bill earlier this legislative session that would allow recall elections of U.S. Senators, which he said is not related to Romney’s statements on impeachment. Wilson has not taken a position on Quinn’s bill, but Senate Majority Leader Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, said legislative attorneys have told him it is unconstitutional.
Senate President Stuart Adams was lukewarm on the idea of censure, stressing that the state legislature should be looking ahead.
“I think there’s a lot of frustration on the issue,” Adams said. “Rather than stay focused on that, I’m trying to figure out a way to actually move forward in a positive way rather than try to continue the rhetoric of swinging at each other.”
Vickers added that censure is not a divisive issue between the Utah House and Senate.
“We may have a little difference of opinion on approach but this is not something we need to dwell on,” Vickers said. “We need to dwell on a lot of other more important things to the state of Utah.”
However, Senate Appropriations Chair Jerry Stevenson said that leadership had not yet made its mind up on censure and Quinn’s recall bill.
“I think they’re divisive,” Stevenson said. “But … you’re kind of asking questions that I don’t really think any of us have spent a lot of time thinking about to date.”
Senate leadership also voiced support for Romney’s ability to vote his conscience.
“I would want to think there’s a place in the Republican party for someone to vote their conscience and to respect that even if maybe I would have made a different vote myself,” said Senate Majority Whip Dan Hemmert.