The Utah Republican Party has issued a statement in support of GOP Sens. Mitt Romney and Mike Lee from the state, despite their differing votes over whether former President Donald Trump should have been convicted in his second impeachment trial.
What are the details?
Over the weekend, the split Senate voted 57-43 in favor of convicting the former president on one charge of inciting an insurrection over his actions surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, but acquitted Trump after falling short of the 67 votes that was needed to secure a conviction.
Seven Republicans joined Democrats in voting in favor of conviction, leading some state GOP organizations to issue condemnations against members who bucked the party by voting to find Trump guilty.
Romney — a longtime Trump critic and former Republican presidential nominee was one of the members who voted to convict the former president, while Lee determined that "acquittal was the only option [he] could deem consistent with the law, the facts, and the Constitution."
The Salt Lake Tribune reported that following the vote, a petition was circulated online among Utah Republicans calling for Romney to be censured for his vote. It reportedly "concludes Romney used his 'senatorial power and influence to undermine' Trump and claims 'Romney appears to be an agent for the Establishment Deep State.'"
But in a statement on Monday, the state GOP came to the defense of Romney and Lee, saying that "our senators have both been criticized for the vote."
What did the state GOP say?
The state party began by quoting the late President Ronald Reagan's declaration that within the GOP's "tent, there will be many arguments and divisions over approach and method ... [but] unity of thought does not require unanimity of thought."
The Utah GOP wrote:
The violence at the US Capitol on January 6 was horrific and inexcusable. Utah's United States Senators each experienced those events firsthand, and then relived them during the Democratic House Managers' relentless video-driven impeachment presentation. In the end, each of our senators voted differently.
Our senators have both been criticized for their vote. The differences between our own Utah Republicans showcase a diversity of thought, in contrast to the danger of a party fixated on 'unanimity of thought.' There is power in our differences as a political party, and we look forward to each senator explaining their votes to the people of Utah."