GOP Sen. Mitt Romney doesn’t rule out voting for Biden, says Trump has ‘authoritarian’ interests

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, on Sunday said he won’t be supporting former President Donald Trump in the 2024 presidential election, and he wouldn’t rule out voting for President Joe Biden.

Romney, a frequent critic of Trump, heavily rebuked the former president in an exclusive interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” He said Trump is “dangerous for the country” because he carries “authoritarian rulings and interests,” and called him “a human gumball machine” that spouts out unfiltered thoughts to the public.

Asked by moderator Kristen Welker if he’d vote for Biden, given what he said about Trump, Romney said: “I’m not going to describe who I’ll rule out other than President Trump.”

His remarks came after Trump said at a Fox News town hall Tuesday that he would not be a dictator if he is elected into the White House next year, “except for Day One.”

“I think we agree that we have looked at his behavior, and his behavior suggests that this is a person who will impose his will if he can, on the judicial system on the legislative branch and on the entire nation,” Romney said.

“I mean, when he called people to come to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, that was not a random date,” he added, referring to the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, by Trump supporters. “That was the date when peaceful transfer of power was to occur — he called that on purpose. There’s no question he has authoritarian rulings and interests and notions which he will try and impose. That’s dangerous for the country.”

Romney also dismissed the impeachment inquiry into Biden that’s being led by his Republican colleagues in the House.

“Have you seen any evidence that President Biden has committed high crimes and misdemeanors?” asked Welker.

Romney said: “No, I don’t see any evidence of that at all. I think before you begin an impeachment inquiry, you ought to have some evidence, some inclination that there’s been wrongdoing, and so far there’s nothing of that nature that’s been provided.”

“So you oppose the impeachment inquiry?” Welker pressed, to which Romney replied: “Well, if I were in the House, I’d vote against it, unless they were able to bring forward evidence that suggested there were a high crime or misdemeanor that had been committed. But so far, that hasn’t been the case.”

Multiple House leaders have said the chamber is expected to vote this week on a resolution to authorize the impeachment inquiry that’s been driven by three GOP-led House committees: Judiciary, Oversight, and Ways and Means. Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, have said they believe Republicans have the votes to approve the resolution.

The White House has repeatedly criticized Republicans’ impeachment inquiry into Biden as an “illegitimate” effort. Ian Sams, a White House spokesperson, slammed the resolution in an interview on MSNBC as a “bungling exercise” by Republicans to impeach the president, adding: “They want to overturn what happened in 2020, and they’re using their power to launch these baseless political attacks against the president.”

“What we’re going to do is push back with the facts and call them out for exactly what they’re doing. And I think the president’s being very clear about what his priorities are in contrast to these extreme Republicans,” Sams said.

Romney was critical of both Biden and Trump’s re-election campaigns on “Meet the Press,” describing the president as “someone who’s too old” and the former president as “someone else who’s a little too nutty.” And he said he’d prefer to “vote for Joe Manchin,” the moderate Senate Democrat who has floated the possibility of a presidential run.

The Utah Republican — who announced in September that he will not be running for re-election in the Senate as he stressed the need for a new generation of politicians — said he believes former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is the only candidate in the GOP field who “has a shot” to become the nominee other than Trump.

Asked why he hasn’t endorsed a candidate yet, Romney said an endorsement “would be the kiss of death.”

“Maybe I should — should I endorse the person I like least right now?” he said, while laughing. “I’m not going to be endorsing President Trump, obviously. I’ve made that very clear.”

Romney has repeatedly laid out a series of scathing critiques of Trump since the then-candidate’s 2016 presidential bid, having denounced him as a fraud, a misogynist and a bully who threatens the country’s future. During his Senate campaign in 2018, Romney continued to rebuke Trump and pitched himself as a voice independent from the then-president. Romney later became the only GOP senator to vote twice to convict Trump at his impeachment trials.