Romney retiring over GOP’s 'decomposition' and concerns for the 'fate of the American project': author
United States Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) announced this week that he will retire at the end of his term, which concludes on January 20th, 2025. On Wednesday, Atlantic correspondent and Romney: A Reckoning author McKay Coppins reveals what Romney told him about his decision to retire.
"It begins with a text message from Angus King, the junior senator from Maine: 'Could you give me a call when you get a chance? Important,'" Coppins recalls. "Romney calls, and King informs him of a conversation he's just had with a high-ranking Pentagon official. Law enforcement has been tracking online chatter among right-wing extremists who appear to be planning something bad on the day of Donald Trump's upcoming rally in Washington, DC. The president has been telling them the election was stolen; now they're coming to steal it back. There's talk of gun smuggling, of bombs and arson, of targeting the traitors in Congress who are responsible for this travesty. Romney's name has been popping up in some frightening corners of the internet, which is why King needed to talk to him. He isn't sure Romney will be safe."
Afterward, Coppins writes, "Romney hangs up and immediately begins typing a text to Mitch McConnell [R-Kentucky], the Senate majority leader. McConnell has been indulgent of Trump's deranged behavior over the past four years, but he's not crazy. He knows that the election wasn't stolen, that his guy lost fair and square. He sees the posturing by Republican politicians for what it is. He'll want to know about this, Romney thinks. He'll want to protect his colleagues, and himself."
Romney then texted McConnell, “In case you have not heard this, I just got a call from Angus King, who said that he had spoken with a senior official at the Pentagon who reports that they are seeing very disturbing social media traffic regarding the protests planned on the 6th. There are calls to burn down your home, Mitch; to smuggle guns into DC, and to storm the Capitol. I hope that sufficient security plans are in place, but I am concerned that the instigator—the President—is the one who commands the reinforcements the DC and Capitol police might require."
McConnell, however, "never responded," Coppins continues.
Coppins notes that he was struck by Romney's willingness to stand up to his colleagues.
"I had never encountered a politician so openly reckoning with what his pursuit of power had cost, much less one doing so while still in office. Candid introspection and crises of conscience are much less expensive in retirement. But Romney was thinking beyond his own political future," Coppins states. "Earlier this year, he confided to me that he would not seek reelection to the Senate in 2024. He planned to make this announcement in the fall. The decision was part political, part actuarial. The men in his family had a history of sudden heart failure, and none had lived longer than his father, who died at 88. 'Do I want to spend eight of the 12 years I have left sitting here and not getting anything done?' he mused. But there was something else. His time in the Senate had left Romney worried—not just about the decomposition of his own political party, but about the fate of the American project itself."
Coppin's full column is available at this link.
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