Romney "sickened" by "dishonesty" in the White House revealed by the Mueller report

By Grace Segers

/ CBS News

Democrats, Republicans react to Mueller report

Sen. Mitt Romney, a frequent critic of President Trump, said in a Friday statement that he was "sickened" by the "dishonesty and misdirection" in the White House revealed in the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Attorney General William Barr released a redacted version of the report to the public Thursday morning.

"I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office in the land, including the president," the Utah Republican wrote. He said that he was also "appalled" that members of the Trump campaign welcomed assistance from Russia.

However, Romney said at the beginning of his statement that he believed it was "good news" that there was insufficient evidence to charge the president of obstruction of justice. The special counsel's office punted on the issue, leaving Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to determine that Mr. Trump did not obstruct justice.

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The report provided evidence of 10 "discrete acts" where the president may have obstructed justice. In one instance, Mr. Trump asked then-White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire the special counsel. McGahn refused to do so. When The New York Times later reported Mr. Trump's request to McGahn, Mr. Trump asked McGahn to say the president never requested that Mueller be fired. McGahn again refused to do so, as the reports were accurate.

"Reading the report is a sobering revelation of how far we have strayed from the aspirations and principles of the founders," Romney wrote.

Despite his relatively harsh statement, Romney has been backed down on criticism of Mr. Trump before. During the 2016 campaign, Romney vehemently opposed Mr. Trump's candidacy, at one point calling him a "phony." After Mr. Trump's election, Romney toned down his rhetoric significantly while he was considered for the position of secretary of state. He was also relatively muted in his criticism of Mr. Trump during his 2018 Senate race.

Romney has been more willing to criticize the president since taking office, writing in an editorial in The Washington Post in January that "the president has not risen to the mantle of the office."

First published on April 19, 2019 / 4:35 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Grace Segers

Grace Segers is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.

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