Republican Sen. Mitt Romney is this year’s recipient of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award for being the lone GOP senator to stand up to then-President Donald Trump in his first impeachment trial, but he’s being awarded the honor at a time when he is not holding his own party accountable for restricting voting rights.
The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation announced Friday that the Utah Republican senator would receive the award for his vote in 2020 to convict Trump on an article of impeachment, and his “consistent and courageous defense of democracy.”
“During a time of grave threat to U.S. democratic institutions, Mitt Romney has been a consistent but often solitary Republican voice in defense of democracy and the rule of law,” the foundation said in a news release Friday.
Romney — who unsuccessfully challenged JFK’s brother Ted Kennedy for his Massachusetts US Senate seat in 1994 — will be presented the award by President Kennedy’s daughter, Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, and her son, Jack Schlossberg, in a virtual ceremony in May.
In 2020, after the House charged Trump with two articles of impeachment, Romney was the sole Republican to vote to convict Trump for abuse of power, becoming the first senator in US history to vote to remove from office a president from the same party. Romney voted with Republicans to acquit Trump of the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress.
At the conclusion of Trump’s second impeachment trial in February, Romney was one of seven GOP senators to vote to convict the then-President for incitement of a insurrection related to his actions during the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. Trump was acquitted by the Senate and found not guilty of all charges in both impeachment trials.
Romney’s votes were a notable break with his party, and at times, he has been a lone GOP voice in the Senate to speak out against Trump’s behavior while in office. During and after the 2020 election, Romney pushed back on Trump’s baseless claims that there was widespread fraud in the election, including mail-in voting, acknowledged Biden as the President-elect, and criticized Trump’s attempts to overturn the election results.
But currently, Republicans across the country are pushing restrictive voting laws they claim will secure and strengthen elections following the 2020 election during which Trump repeated disproven claims of widespread voter fraud. In Georgia on Thursday, Republicans sped a sweeping elections bill restricting voting access into law that includes provisions that limit the use of ballot drop boxes and makes it a crime to approach voters in line to give them food and water.
In light of these efforts, Romney has largely fallen in line with his party, including raising concerns about the Democrats’ sweeping voting bill, S.1, which would expand access to early and mail-in voting and create an automatic voter registration for all eligible Americans among other provisions. Republicans have objected to the measure as federal overreach and an effort aimed squarely at keeping Congress in Democratic control.
Romney has said it’s “very unlikely” he’d support the bill, CNN’s Manu Raju reported.
“I don’t want to federalize the elections,” Romney said Monday. “That’s not what the Constitution demands, and I think states should have responsibility for conducting their elections.”
CNN has reached out to Romney’s office for additional comment.