Romney pledges 'open mind' ahead of impeachment trial

Romney pledges 'open mind' ahead of impeachment trial
© Greg Nash
Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Donald Trump: Unrepentant, on the attack and still playing the victim The Hill's Campaign Report: New challenges for 2020 Dems in Nevada, South Carolina MORE (R-Utah) said on Monday that he is keeping an "open mind" ahead of President TrumpDonald John TrumpCensus Bureau spends millions on ad campaign to mitigate fears on excluded citizenship question Bloomberg campaign: Primary is two-way race with Sanders Democratic senator meets with Iranian foreign minister MORE's impeachment trial but reiterated that any decision on witness should wait until mid-trial. 
"Deciding whether or not a sitting president should be removed from office is perhaps the most solemn matter that can ever come before the United States Senate. I enter this task with an open mind and a recognition of my solemn responsibility to fulfill my oath," Romney said in a statement to constituents. 
Romney added that the allegations included in the two House-passed articles — one accuses Trump of abusing power in his dealings with Ukraine, the second on obstructing Congress during its investigation of those actions —  "are extremely serious." 
"These allegations demand that the Senate put political biases aside, and make good faith efforts to listen to arguments from both sides and thoroughly review facts and evidence," Romney said.
Romney's statement comes as the Senate's impeachment trial is expected to get underway in earnest on Tuesday when the chamber debates and passes a resolution outlining the rules for the trial. 
Both House managers and Trump's legal team would have 24 hours each, spread out over two days, to make their initial arguments, according to the text of the resolution circulated on Monday night. 
After that senators would have 16 hours to ask questions in writing through the chief justice. The rules also guarantee a vote mid-trial on "whether it shall be in order to consider and debate under the impeachment rules any motion to subpoena witnesses or documents." 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellErnst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices Senate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Trump declares war on hardworking Americans with new budget request MORE (R-Ky.) will need, and has said he has, 51 votes to pass the rules resolution despite objections from Democrats, who have vowed to try to amend the measure on the floor on Tuesday. 
Romney, in statement, indicated that he would support the resolution arguing that "overall, it aligns closely with the rules package" approved during the 1999 trial of then-President Clinton. 
"If attempts are made to vote on witnesses prior to opening arguments, I would oppose those efforts," Romney said. 
Romney, who joined the Senate last year, has emerged as a key vote to watch in the upcoming impeachment trial. He is the only Republican senator who has specifically said that he wants to hear from former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonWe should listen to John Bolton The Hill's Morning Report - Sanders on the rise as Nevada debate looms Bolton decries White House 'censorship' in rare public remarks on his book MORE
While a majority of Republican senators have indicated that they will vote to acquit Trump at the end of the Senate proceeding, Romney, who has had high-profile clashes with the president, has also kept a tight lid on his thinking heading into the trial. 
Romney added on Monday that he viewed the impeachment effort as "difficult," "divisive" and something that "further inflames partisan entrenchment." 
"There is inevitable political pressure from all sides. I have spent — and will continue to spend — many hours in careful deliberation about what this process and its potential outcomes could mean for our country. The best we in the Senate can do is strive to meet the obligations outlined by our founding fathers," he said.