US Senator Mitt Romney has accused fellow Republicans of fomenting political division by perpetuating the myth that massive voter fraud denied Donald Trump re-election.
Romney said unity will be difficult to achieve without acknowledging Democratic President Joe Biden won a fair contest.
Romney, in an interview with Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar on behalf of the Economic Club of Chicago, also said he shared hopes that the January 6 uprising at the US Capitol might lead to more bipartisanship, but said there’s been no sign of any change in rhetoric.
Romney voted to convict Trump in the former president’s first Senate impeachment trial last year and will be a juror in the upcoming trial in which Trump is accused of insurrection for allegedly encouraging the violent attempt by his supporters to take over the Capitol.
The senator said he believed the impact of social media in stoking unrest about the election would have been dampened if Republicans had pronounced Biden the rightful victor.
“In addition to social media perpetuating the big lie, if you will, that somehow Donald Trump is still president and Joseph Biden stole the election, you have many Trump supporters in elected office – senators, congresspeople, governors – continuing to say the same thing, that the election was stolen,” he said.
“If each of us, elected Republicans, went out and if we went on Fox (News) … saying, ‘You know what? I was a big Trump supporter. I was really pulling for Donald Trump. But you know what? He lost fair and square’,” Romney said.
“If that were happening, I think the impact of social media would be less.”
Addressing the second impeachment, Romney said: “Justice being carried out is something which the American people expect.
“There’s no question but that the president incited the insurrection that occurred.
“To what degree … is something we’re going to evaluate in the trial.
“But to simply say, ‘Well, we’re gonna just move on because we need to be united’ would not be consistent with the history of justice as applied in our country.”
On Tuesday, the US Senate voted 55-45 to block a Republican effort to upset plans for former president Trump’s impeachment trial.
Five Republicans joined Democrats to reject a motion by Republican Senator Rand Paul that would have required the chamber to vote on whether the trial violates the US Constitution.
At least 17 Republicans would need to join all 50 Democrats for Trump to be convicted, which appears unlikely to be reached.
The impeachment trial is set to begin on February 9.