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HOW DID “ONE INTERVIEW” BECOME TWO?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Feb. 6, 2020) — Moments after Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said Wednesday on the floor of the U.S. Senate that he would vote to convict President Donald Trump on one Article of Impeachment later that day, Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace told “The Daily Briefing” host Dana Perino that he had conducted an interview with Romney in which the first-term senator and former presidential candidate divulged how he would vote.
Wallace had billed the sit-down as the sole interview Romney said he would conduct prior to the vote-taking at 4:00 PM Wednesday. “We got a call from Senator Romney’s office yesterday saying that he wanted to do one interview to discuss his decision and the blowback that he knows that will flow from it,” Wallace introduced the interview, adding that it was conducted at “about 11:30” Wednesday morning.
The interview is billed as an “exclusive” on Fox’s webpage for The Daily Briefing.
However, according to McKay Coppins of The Atlantic on February 5, he, too, conducted an interview with Romney prior to the Senate vote in which Romney imparted the same information.
“…when the senator invited me to his Capitol Hill office yesterday, I was unsure what he would reveal. Romney had been largely silent throughout the impeachment proceedings, giving little indication of which way he was leaning. I half-expected to find a cowed and calculating politician ready with a list of excuses for caving. (His staff granted the interview on the condition that it would be embargoed until he took to the Senate floor.),” Coppins wrote on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Breitbart News reported:
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) leaked advance news of his vote to convict President Donald Trump on one of two articles of impeachment to McKay Coppins, the same reporter who mocked Romney during his run for president in 2012.
As Romney stood to speak in the Senate, Coppins, who writes for The Atlantic, published his scoop, “How Mitt Romney Decided Trump Is Guilty.”
Coppins revealed that Romney reached out to him personally and directly, inviting him to his office in the Senate on Tuesday — the day before the vote — to reveal his decision, embargoed until his speech.
The irony is rich. In 2012, Coppins, then working for Buzzfeed, was caught on a hot mic telling another reporter before Romney took the stage at a campaign event just days before the election was to be held.
After airing it, Wallace told Perino that the prerecorded interview was “embargoed” until after Romney stated publicly how he planned to vote on the two Articles of Impeachment approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on December 18, 2019.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi did not convey the Articles to the U.S. Senate for trial until 33 days later, with formal proceedings beginning there on January 21.
Romney was one of two Republican U.S. senators who voted to call additional witnesses, along with Susan Collins of Maine. Collins, however, who is facing reelection in the fall, announced on the Senate floor that she would vote to acquit Trump on both Articles.
On Thursday morning, former U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah and Senate staff attorney Brett Tolman told “Fox & Friends” co-host Steve Doocy that in light of the fact that Romney said he wanted to hear from more witnesses, his vote to convict on the count of “abuse of power” without the additional evidence he sought was based on faulty reasoning. (Interview begins at 15:34.) “He’s been cloaked in the robes of flattery and the left’s disdain of President Trump, receiving praise, I think, for his vote against [sic] witnesses, but think about the logic of what he concluded: he ‘fought hard’ to get additional witnesses, indicated he needed them in order to make an informed decision on the vote to convict or not and then ultimately didn’t need such witnesses and voted to convict him without those witnesses being called, so it wasn’t based on sort-of a heartfelt, thorough analysis of what the House managers presented,” Tolman said.
In March 2016, Romney gave a solo address at the Hinckley Institute at the University of Utah wherein he urged Republican primary voters to reject Trump as their nominee. “If we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished,” Romney said, adding, “He’s not of the temperament of the kind of stable, thoughtful person we need as a leader. His imagination must not be married to real power. The president of the United States has long been the leader of the free world.”
In his interview with Wallace, Romney said Trump committed a “high crime and misdemeanor” in his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, which touched off the impeachment proceedings. When Wallace pressed him on whether or not Trump is “unfit to serve as president and should be removed from office,” Romney responded, “I do believe he should be removed from office; that’s the vote that I will take in just a short while.”
Trump was acquitted on both Articles by votes of 52-48 and 53-47, respectively.
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