Senate and House Democrats on Wednesday, including controversial “Squad” member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, praised Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, for breaking with his party in announcing that he would vote to convict President Trump on one article of impeachment.
The announcement came hours before the Senate voted to acquit Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, respectively, in connection with his alleged withholding of military aid to Ukraine in exchange for dirt on his 2020 rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
In an eight-minute speech on the Senate floor, the unsuccessful 2012 presidential nominee cited the significance of the impeachment oath to render “impartial justice” sworn by all senators
“I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am,” Romney said. “The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the president committed an act so extreme, so egregious, that it rises to the level of a high crime and misdemeanor. Yes, he did.”
Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., after the Senate vote said the GOP was “caught off guard” by Romney's decision.
“I know the enormous amount of pressure you feel... the courage that took is something to be recognized. To stand out on your own,” Ocasio-Cortez said on Romney's decision to go it alone.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., called it “one of the most important speeches I have ever had the good fortune to hear in person.”
He added: “At a time when many wonder what honor is left in public life, there stands Mitt Romney.”
And 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., agreed with Romney’s assertion that: “Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.”
“I agree, @MittRomney. Voting to convict the president is an act of patriotism. Thank you for yours,” Warren tweeted.
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., thanked Romney for his “#impeachment courage.”
“You put our country’s national security above your own personal, political interests. That’s the opposite of what @realDonaldTrump did. History will favorably know your name for this,” he tweeted.
The Republican-controlled Senate acquitted Trump on both impeachment charges -- abuse of power and obstruction of Congress -- largely along party lines.
Romney cast the only dissenting vote to convict Trump of abuse of power but voted with his Republican colleagues to acquit Trump of obstruction of Congress.
Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., called Romney’s dissenting vote “very disappointing,” adding: “I strongly disagree. But he has to speak for what he believes.”
Romney’s move denies President Trump a campaign talking point of asserting that he had been unanimously acquitted by Republicans in a strictly partisan drive to remove him.
Fox News' Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.