Incoming Utah Sen. Mitt Romney criticized President Donald Trump in a new op-ed before he was even seated in Congress.
Romney, who will be sworn in Thursday, wrote a New Year’s Day op-ed in The Washington Post concluding that Trump’s "conduct over the past two years, particularly his actions this month, is evidence that the President has not risen to the mantle of the office."
"A president should demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity, and elevate the national discourse with comity and mutual respect. ... And it is in this province where the incumbent's shortfall has been most glaring," Romney wrote.
Romney wrote that he does not "intend to comment on every tweet or fault," but that he will "speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions."
The relationship between Trump and Romney has been a messy one. Trump endorsed Romney in 2012 but Romney refused to fall behind Trump in 2016, labeling him a “phony.” After Trump’s win, however, Romney met with the president-elect over dinner and was reported to be on the list of potential Secretary of State nominees. Romney lightly criticized Trump after announcing his Senate bid, which Trump endorsed.
Romney’s own niece hits back:
Ronna Romney McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, sided with the president over her uncle in a tweet referring to Romney as a “freshman senator.”
"POTUS is attacked and obstructed by the MSM media and Democrats 24/7. For an incoming Republican freshman senator to attack @realdonaldtrump as their first act feeds into what the Democrats and media want and is disappointing and unproductive," McDaniel tweeted.
Trump fires back too:
“Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast! Question will be, is he a Flake?” Trump asked, referring to retired Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake. “I hope not. Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful. I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!”