Johnson confronts Romney after vote on witnesses

Two Republican senators — Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonMarjorie Taylor Greene's delay tactics frustrate GOP Democrats gear up for PR battle on COVID-19 relief Johnson says leaving office after 2022 'probably my preference now' MORE of Wisconsin and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyDemocratic centrists flex power on Biden legislation Ron Johnson grinds Senate to halt, irritating many Romney's TRUST Act is a Trojan Horse to cut seniors' benefits MORE of Utah — got into a confrontation on the Senate floor Saturday after Romney voted with Democrats to allow witnesses in the impeachment trial of former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Albany Times Union editorial board calls for Cuomo's resignation Advocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia's record turnout MORE.

Reporters sitting in the Senate gallery said they saw a “visibly upset” Johnson turn to Romney and point at him after the vote.

The two men then got into a back-and-forth, with Sen. Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanSenate approves sweeping coronavirus measure in partisan vote Senate GOP gets short-lived win on unemployment fight McConnell makes failed bid to adjourn Senate after hours-long delay MORE (R-Alaska) trying to play referee. 


Voices were raised, and at one point Johnson was overheard saying he blamed Romney.  

Johnson is a staunch Trump ally who argued the defense “eviscerated” the Democratic prosecutors and “blew their case out of the water.” Romney, a frequent Trump critic, voted to convict Trump on one count during last year’s impeachment trial. In the second trial, Romney voted both that the impeachment trial over whether Trump incited an insurrection on Jan. 6 was constitutional and for witnesses to be called.

Johnson on Saturday flashed his anger at reporters who later asked him about his exchange with Romney.  

"Those are private. Those are private conversations," Johnson said.

"Reporters heard it," a reporter replied just off the Senate chamber. "I just want to make sure we’re getting it right."

"That’s grotesque you guys are recording us," the senator retorted.

"They were allowed to witness your proceedings" on the Senate floor, the reporter said.

Television cameras controlled by the Senate apparently did not capture the exchange.