Sen. Mitt Romney: Elected officials must denounce violence ahead of Biden inauguration

After violent protesters loyal to President Donald
Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol today, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah,
joins other senators as they return to the House chamber to
continue the joint session of the House and Senate and count the
Electoral College votes cast in November’s election, at the Capitol
in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021.

(J. Scott Applewhite, The Associated Press)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mitt Romney reiterated Tuesday that President Donald Trump must face consequences for inciting a riot in Washington, D.C., last week that left five people dead.

The Utah Republican also called on elected officials to acknowledge that President-elect Joe Biden was legitimately elected as president and to "very forcefully" denounce violence leading up to the inauguration and afterward.

"I think those are two messages that would be very, very helpful in calming people and in getting back to normalcy," he said.

Romney made the comments via videoconference at the Salt Lake Chamber's annual Utah Economic Outlook and Public Policy Summit on Tuesday.

Utah's four Republican congressmen, who were called back to Washington as House Democrats prepare to impeach Trump, provided prerecorded speeches for the event, mostly focused on the economy. None of them addressed the pro-Trump takeover of the U.S. Capitol last week or the impending articles of impeachment.

The Secret Service will begin carrying out security measures for the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration on Wednesday, almost a week earlier than planned because of last week's rioting and threats of more protests that have raised questions about safety at the ceremony.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged federal authorities to place rioters identified in the pro-Trump mob on the Transportation Security Administration's no-fly list ahead of the inauguration to prevent further clashes in the nation's capital.

The House is scheduled to vote on a resolution Tuesday night that calls on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team informed members on a private call Monday they will need to return to the Capitol — for many, the first time since the Jan. 6 attacks — on Tuesday, according to Politico. Impeachment is scheduled for consideration at 9 a.m. Wednesday, if Trump refuses to resign and Pence won't initiate other procedures to remove him.

"I think what you're seeing in Washington is a recognition that what happened at the Capitol was an outrageous violation of the Capitol building, of course, itself, but also democratic principles and the peaceful transfer of power," Romney said. "There's recognition that consequences of some kind have to be associated with the incitation of the insurrection that we saw. What those consequences might be depend in part upon who you're talking to."

Romney said Monday that there must be "meaningful consequences" when the president incites an attack against Congress.

As the House debated the resolution, Rep. John Curtis and five House Republicans introduced a resolution to censure Trump for attempting to unlawfully overturn the 2020 presidential election and for violating his oath of office last Wednesday.

Curtis urged Democratic leaders to allow time for a full impeachment inquiry.

"The events at the Capitol last week were abhorrent; all those involved must be held accountable, including President Trump," he said in a statement. "Censuring the president and making it clear that Congress does not support any level of his involvement in the riots nor any attempts to undermine an election is a critical step in holding him accountable as more facts continue to unfold."

If the House impeaches Trump, the articles of impeachment would go to the Senate, though Pelosi declined to say Tuesday when that would be. The Senate is scheduled to return to session Jan. 19, a day ahead of the inauguration.

There's recognition that consequences of some kind have to be associated with the incitation of the insurrection that we saw. What those consequences might be depend in part upon who you're talking to.

–Utah Sen. Mitt Romney

Romney said if the articles reach the Senate, he presumes there would be different points of view which would be resolved by the evidence brought forward.

"Obviously, this is a time of great concern," he said.

Romney was the only Republican in the Senate who voted to remove Trump from office after he was impeached the first time.

In a video posted on Twitter, Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, said he's "deeply concerned and troubled" as the House takes up impeachment again. He posted periodic videos about the process when Trump was impeached in 2019.

"I didn't know that I would ever be doing these again, and particularly, so soon," he said.

Curtis described the first video as "nuts and bolts" and said he would share his feelings about impeachment in a future video.

Curtis did issue a statement Monday saying a 48-hour impeachment process has no chance of reaching a thoughtful conclusion, holds no consideration for the millions of people who have voted for Trump, and will do nothing to unite the country or answer the many questions needing resolution.

He posted another video later Tuesday after landing in Washington saying he has felt sick to his stomach since last Wednesday and Pelosi's call for impeachment only made it worse.

"This is a terrible thing that is happening," Curtis said. "I don't see a clear answer."

The process removes due process and the right of the accused to represent themselves, he said, adding that some will argue that they don't need more proof because they were in the building and saw the riots.

Curtis said as he read Trump's remarks and sees emerging facts, he believes the riot was predetermined and premeditated.

"Don't tell me it was the president's speech that caused this to happen. Now, you can tell me it encouraged it and it incited, and I'm going to agree with," he said. "But these people came with zip ties to Washington, D.C. These people came with a plan to Washington, D.C."

Curtis said he still has a lot of questions about what happened and why.

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