Mitt Romney Receives JFK Profile in Courage Award for Voting to Convict Trump

"I sleep well because I know that I did what my conscience told me was the right thing to do," the Utah senator said on Today on Friday of his 2020 vote

Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty

The same impeachment vote that drew scorn from the GOP base has now made Sen. Mitt Romney a winner of the Profile in Courage Award.

The Utah lawmaker is being honored by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation for his 2020 vote to convict Donald Trump in the first of Trump's two impeachment trials, when Romney was the only Republican senator who found the former president guilty of abuse of power.

Romney, 74, is the 2021 recipient of the annual Profile in Courage Award, the foundation announced on Friday.

He will formally receive the award at a virtual ceremony in May.

The honor was created in 1989 by former President John F. Kennedy's family to recognize "a public official (or officials) at the federal, state or local level whose actions demonstrate the qualities of politically courageous leadership in the spirit of Profiles in Courage, President Kennedy's 1957 Pulitzer prize-winning book."

"The 2021 Profile in Courage Award goes to Senator Mitt Romney for his vote to convict President Donald J. Trump in 2020, and his consistent and courageous defense of democracy," the official announcement reads. "As the first Senator to have ever voted to convict a President of his own party, Senator Romney's courageous stand was historic."

Caroline Kennedy, President Kennedy's daughter, said in a statement that Romney's "commitment to our Constitution makes him a worthy successor to the Senators who inspired my father to write Profiles in Courage. He reminds us that our Democracy depends on the courage, conscience and character of our elected officials."

Romney joins other notable politicians who have received the award in recent years, such as former Presidents George H. W. Bush, Gerald Ford and Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, former Rep. Gabby Giffords and former Sen. John McCain.

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Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney. Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Romney spoke to the Today show on Friday about the award, saying he was "very appreciative" and "also humbled by it."

In the interview with NBC News' Peter Alexander, Romney acknowledged there was "no question" that "there are a few people that are not happy with me" after facing widespread opposition from his fellow party members and many supporters of Trump, 74, for voting to convict.

Though Romney said he "understand[s] that that's the nature of the job that I've got," he has "absolutely" no regrets about his guilty vote against the former president, who went on to face impeachment a second time, earlier this year, in the wake of the U.S. Capitol attack on Jan. 6

Trump, who insisted his behavior was protected free speech after he encouraged supporters to march on the Capitol, was acquitted in both Senate trials.

Romney twice voted to convict Trump, and several other Republicans joined him in the second trial.

"I sleep well because I know that I did what my conscience told me was the right thing to do," Romney said on Today.

"We swore, under God, that we would apply impartial justice. I took that very, very seriously," Romney said. "I listened to the various testimonies that were provided ... and I felt that that was a severe enough violation of his oath of office to require a guilty verdict."

Mitt Romney, Donald Trump
Mitt Romney (L); Donald Trump. Felix Hörhager/picture alliance via Getty; MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty

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Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee who has long been a vocal critic of Trump's, confirmed in October that he did not vote for Trump in November. (Trump, for his part, ridiculed Romney as a "pompous 'a--.' ")

Nonetheless, Romney recently said he expects that Trump "will continue to play a role in" the Republican Party going forward.

"He has by far the largest voice and a big impact in my party," he said in an interview with The New York Times last month. "I expect he will continue playing a role. I don't know if he'll run in 2024 or not, but if he does I'm pretty sure he will win the nomination."

Asked if he would campaign against Trump in the future, Romney (who once met with Trump about becoming secretary of state) said he would "not be voting for President Trump again — I haven't voted for him in the past — and I would probably be getting behind somebody who I thought more represented the tiny wing of the Republican Party that I represent."

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