"The Federalist" columnist Mollie Hemingway and "The Dispatch" editor Jonah Goldberg debated the value of Mitt Romney's vote to convict President Trump on abuse of power Wednesday night on FNC's "Special Report" panel:
JONATHAN SWAN, AXIOS: I think the Romney votes took some people by surprise. We were just about to report on "Axios" that Romney has put a letter in the box of each of his colleagues in the cloakroom, in the box of each of his colleagues in blue ink signed "Mitt" that has some of the conscience part of his speech to justify himself. That can tell you that his mindset at the moment, how he's feeling with his colleagues. We have seen, the most significant thing that happened today was the president hasn't said much yet, that his eldest son Donald Trump Jr. publicly called for Mitt Romney to be expelled from the Republican Party. So even though Mitch McConnell has already said, you know, we don't have a dog house, you watch what the base does with Mitt Romney.
BRET BAIER, HOST: Here's Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Minority Senate Leader Chuck Schumer.
MITCH MCCONNELL: I'm not sitting here predicting what will be the biggest issue in November. I can tell you this and tell you this. Right now, this is a political loser for them. They initiated it, they thought this was a great idea and at least for the short term and has been a colossal political mistake.
CHUCK SCHUMER: This is clearly not a happy day for the Senate. The Senate turned its back on the truth.
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: It is absolutely true that impeachment was not done to remove President Trump, nobody thought that the case made by the Democrats would ever lead. It was done to placate the base, which includes our media, which has been pushing for impeachment for several years. It was also done to hurt his approval numbers going into a very important re-election. By that metric, it's just utterly failed. Donald Trump somehow came through impeachment, by the end, having the highest numbers of his presidency. The GOP had higher numbers than they've had in an extremely long time.
BRET BAIER: You see the Gallup poll, the job approval.
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY: Democratic numbers went down for the main political victim of impeachment was Joe Biden, who was never able to provide a noncorrupt answer for what his son was doing while he was Obama's point man in Ukraine. He came out of the Iowa caucuses apparently in fourth place. It also unified the Senate Republicans in a way that would've been unthinkable even a few years ago. Republicans are strongest when they work together, but they've been not working together very well in recent years.
The case was so shoddy that the only person to fall for it was Mitt Romney.
BRET BAIER: Senator Susan Collins, Jonah, in explaining her vote, not guilty, said on CBS yesterday that she thought the president "learned his lesson from this whole thing." We have not, again, heard from the president and we will tomorrow, but we have heard in a fund-raising email that quotes him, "Like I've been saying all along, I've done nothing wrong. If they just read the transcript, they would've seen that I have been a perfect president." What to expect tomorrow wherever that speech is?
JONAH GOLDBERG, THE DISPATCH: More on that, I happen to disagree with Mollie. I happen to think it is a political loser for [the Democrats]... so far. We had a rush partisan impeachment and a rushed partisan acquittal.
Mollie says Mitt Romney was the "only one who fell for it." By my count, almost one-fifth of the Republicans disagree with the president that it was "perfect." Sen. Lamar Alexander said we didn't need witnesses because it was obvious what he did was wrong and we didn't need it.
I would suspect a lot of people, a lot of senators like Lamar Alexander, are happy with what Mitt Romney has done precisely because it lets them off the hook for breaking with the messaging that we've heard relentlessly from the Praetorian Guard around the Trump White House that there was absolutely nothing wrong, that they are suffering from Trump derangement syndrome if you thought what he was doing was even remotely inappropriate. We now know most of the Republicans, as Ben Sasse said, think that Lamar Alexander was speaking for them. You can disagree with Romney's decision to convict, but I think that if you actually did a secret poll of the people in republicans with very few exceptions, I think it would be unanimous that he did something wrong.
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY: There are some 250 Republicans elected in Congress and Mitt Romney was the only person to vote this way. Mitt Romney does not have a lot of ideas he's consistent on over the years. He does not have a lot of signature issues. He came to the Senate after a lot of vocal opposition to President Trump. He gave a big speech in Utah during the 2016 election, he's written a lot of op-ed's. By voting to remove President Trump, he's achieved his special purpose.
BRET BAIER: You don't buy the stuff he told Chris Wallace?
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY: He changes his views a little bit.
JONAH GOLDBERG: Unlike President Trump, who is a model of consistency.
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY: He reminded people how we lost that 2012 election against Barack Obama, an easily winnable election. He reminded people why Republican voters chose people like Donald Trump and why they are so pleased with him and it reminds people why they are -- he reminds Republicans why they are rejecting that sort of failed leadership of the past, that adopted media messaging that kowtow to Democratic messaging in favor of President Trump.
JONAH GOLDBERG: I disagree with that entirely.
BRET BAIER: I noted that. I think it was assumed.