By Colleen O'Connor
The big shows are over for now.
The Oscar winners have been announced. The impeachment trial of President Donald John Trump has ended in acquittal. The New Hampshire primary results are in. And Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucus status will never recover.
Under the radar, but flashing like bolt-lightening, signaling the thunder of a major storm, stands something far more important. And one man—like Moses parting the Red Sea—accomplished it.
That man is Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah.
That cowardice started with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. Citing a Justice Department memo, Mueller declined to draw a strong conclusion.
“Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” he said.
Instead, Mueller provided Attorney General William Barr and President Trump the opening to declare “there was no collusion”—despite every U.S. intelligence agency finding otherwise.
Mueller’s muddled conclusion, delivered as if he were prevented from making the call without some higher authority, was striking for its Vichy-like stance.
Worse are the likes of a John Bolton, who still refuses to provide even a sworn affidavit of what he has already written, which would constitute concrete proof of the President’s guilt. He was there for it all — as were others in the Trump White House who stayed silent.
Then there are the occupants of Rudy Giuliani’s clown car: Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman and, according to Parnas, “those holding various roles in this plot included GOP Super PAC America First, President Trump, Vice President Pence, former Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General Bill Barr, Senator Lindsey Graham, Congressman Devin Nunes, Nunes’s Staffer Derek Harvey, Journalist John Solomon, Attorneys Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, Mr. Giuliani, and others.”
And to these the retired generals like John Kelly, H.R. McMaster, and James Mattis, who remain more silent than candid.
The list is painfully long of those who cannot be shamed.
And the most shameless is Michael Flynn, who is currently applying for yet another sentencing delay. This time he’s receiving support from none other than Barr’s newly appointed, hand-picked prosecutor. And he’s still hoping for a post-November pardon.
But now add every Republican Senator—except one.
It took few words, but mountains of courage to speak. Romney’s closing remarks say it all:
“The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the President committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a ‘high crime and misdemeanor.’
“Yes, he did… Accordingly, the President is guilty of an appalling abuse of the public trust.”
It was a complete surprise to the White House, and a shock to those without valor or convictions born of faith. The thunderous aftermath still rages.
Romney did more than tower over his diminished GOP colleagues, he also laid bare their cowardice and complicity.
It was something the Salt Lake Tribune applauded, saying, “When it was crunch time, Romney just could not avert his eyes from the fact that this president had, without a shadow of a doubt, abused his power as commander-in-chief.”
The Tribune’s editorial board wrote that 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.”
His speech will make history for generations. His footprint will be large. And his decency as a human being, in the current “swamp” of corruption, will always be welcomed by the good among us.
Colleen O’Connor is a native San Diegan and a retired college professor.
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