The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Trump uses vulgarity, calls for Romney’s impeachment after senator criticizes president’s China, Ukraine appeals

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) speaks with reporters on May 21 on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) speaks with reporters on May 21 on Capitol Hill. (Patrick Semansky/AP)
Placeholder while article actions load

President Trump resumed his attacks on Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) Saturday morning, calling the 2012 GOP presidential nominee a “pompous ‘ass’ ” and calling for the senator’s impeachment a day after Romney criticized Trump for asking foreign leaders to investigate a political opponent.

“Somebody please wake up Mitt Romney and tell him that my conversation with the Ukrainian President was a congenial and very appropriate one, and my statement on China pertained to corruption, not politics. If Mitt worked this hard on Obama, he could have won. Sadly, he choked!” Trump tweeted.

Trump continued, “Mitt Romney never knew how to win. He is a pompous ‘ass’ who has been fighting me from the beginning, except when he begged me for my endorsement for his Senate run (I gave it to him), and when he begged me to be Secretary of State (I didn’t give it to him). He is so bad for R’s!”

President Trumps said on Oct. 4 that he is “very proud” of his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: Tom Brenner/The Washington Post)

Hours later, Trump suggested, with no evidence, that Utah voters regretted their choice and that Romney should be impeached. Romney was elected with 62.6 percent of the vote in 2018.

“I’m hearing that the Great People of Utah are considering their vote for their Pompous Senator, Mitt Romney, to be a big mistake. I agree! He is a fool who is playing right into the hands of the Do Nothing Democrats! #IMPEACHMITTROMNEY,” Trump tweeted.

A U.S. senator cannot be impeached. Instead, the Constitution gives the House or Senate the power to expel one of its own members by a two-thirds vote.

Trump and his allies have launched similar attacks on other GOP members who’ve criticized the president, part of a broader effort to keep rank-and-file members in line.

Republican dissidents who speak out become targets of viral disinformation

After Trump suggested on the White House lawn Thursday that China investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter, Romney denounced the president, one of the few Republicans to do so.

“When the only American citizen President Trump singles out for China’s investigation is his political opponent in the midst of the Democratic nomination process, it strains credulity to suggest that it is anything other than politically motivated,” Romney tweeted on Friday. “By all appearances, the President’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling.”

Only one other GOP senator has criticized Trump’s behavior, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse.

“Hold up: Americans don’t look to Chinese commies for the truth,” Sasse told the Omaha World-Herald. “If the Biden kid broke laws by selling his name to Beijing, that’s a matter for American courts, not communist tyrants running torture camps.”

But Sasse was careful to critique Democrats too. In the same interview, he said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) was “running a partisan clown show in the House.”

Trump and Romney have a long, complicated history. In 2012, Trump, who pushed a birther conspiracy theory about President Barack Obama, publicly endorsed the former Massachusetts governor for president.

But after Romney’s loss to Obama, Trump derided Romney’s performance.

Romney actually outperformed Trump in the popular vote, winning 47.2 percent of the vote in 2012 to Trump’s 46.1 percent in 2016. But unlike Trump, Romney failed to win enough states to secure an electoral college victory.

Romney was critical of Trump during the 2016 campaign, calling him a “phony.” But Romney broke bread with Trump after he won the presidency. At the time, Trump was considering Romney for secretary of state.

When Romney won his Senate seat in 2018, he promised in an op-ed published the night before his swearing-in that he would stand up to Trump as needed, though until now he has stayed mostly on the sidelines.