Sen. Mitt Romney expects 'total honesty' from Trump administration

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HEBER CITY — Sen. Mitt Romney expects "total honesty" from President Donald Trump and his administration.

"It's not a crime to lie. It's just wrong. I think it's morally wrong. I reject people who lie. I reject lies," he said.

The Utah Republican's comments came in response to questions Wednesday about special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump should be impeached at a town hall meeting at the Heber City Police Department.

Romney earlier said that some of Mueller's findings, particularly dishonesty in the administration, "sickened" him.

A crowd of about 70 people, including two men wearing red Make America Great Again hats, also asked Romney about climate change, socialism and China during the hourlong exchange.

The state's junior senator told the residents that he would be making his first speech on the Senate floor next week about matters "we care about," but particularly on foreign policy. Romney is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and chairman of the Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism.

Romney faced a string of questions at the town hall meeting about the Mueller investigation and Democrats' efforts to launch impeachment proceedings against Trump. He said it would be difficult to make a case for obstruction of justice against the president.

"There were things that were said in that report which suggested that people in the administration had said things that were untrue, and I've found that disheartening because I expect total honesty by the highest office in the land," he said.

"And if they make a mistake and say something that's untrue, I expect them to come out and say, 'I made a mistake,' and clarify it."

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One man drew applause — and a couple of boos — when in his question to Romney he said that he supported impeachment.

Asked after the meeting how he would vote if the House were to impeach Trump, Romney said, "I'm not going there." Removing an impeached president from office takes a two-thirds vote in the Senate.

Romney reiterated that he doesn't think House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will start impeachment proceedings, and it would be the wrong approach if she did.

"If I become part of the jury, I'll listen to what they have to say, but my own view is based upon what I've seen that an impeachment is not a course that is going to end in a course she wanted," he said.

On the issue of climate change, Romney said: "No question, it's getting hotter."

Romney said he and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., are working on legislation to provide incentives for private enterprise and universities to find ways to reduce global warming. He said he thinks the only real solution is a technological breakthrough of some kind.

He said he told Graham that he doesn't know if humans cause global warming, but "I hope so because if we're not causing it, there's no hope. It's just out of our control."

It's not a crime to lie. It's just wrong. I think it's morally wrong. I reject people who lie. I reject lies.

–Sen. Mitt Romney

Romney said he has seen nothing so far that would reduce greenhouse gases as China, India, Brazil and Indonesia become more industrialized and use more energy.

In response to a question about socialism, he said it has failed around the world and is "antithetical to the way America has worked."

"Our system's working pretty darn well," Romney said. "I look with great askance when the Bernie Sanders of the world say we want the government to take something over."

A recent high school graduate asked Romney why Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., appeal to young people.

"I think people who've been out in the real world and have looked around the world at what systems are working come to the conclusion that socialism, generally, is not a very effective economic model," the senator said.

China, he said, was in the doldrums for more than a century because of socialism and communism before adopting a form of free enterprise, and "holy cow, look at their economy. They're growing like crazy."

Because of China's population, it's economy will someday be larger than the U.S. economy, he said.

Romney continued to express concerns about China, saying it's going to be a long-term threat to the U.S. economically, militarily and geopolitically.

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Dennis Romboy
Dennis Romboy is an editor and reporter for the Deseret News. He has covered a variety of beats over the years, including state and local government, social issues and courts. A Utah native, Romboy earned a degree in journalism from the University of Utah. He enjoys cycling, snowboarding and running.


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