Orrin Hatch, the longest-serving Republican in the US Senate, announced on Tuesday that he will retire at the end of the year. In doing so, he made room for a potential Senate bid by former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
“I’ve always been a fighter,” Hatch, 83, said in a video statement. “I was an amateur boxer in my youth, and I brought that fighting spirit with me to Washington. But every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves. And for me, that time is soon approaching.”
Shortly after Hatch’s announcement, Romney issued a short statement praising the Utah senator “for his more than 40 years of service to our great state and nation”. He did not address his own ambitions.
Hatch is the longest-serving Republican senator of all time, having represented Utah since 1977. Recently, he has faced competing pressures about his political future.
Donald Trump had lobbied him to run again, particularly after Hatch played an instrumental role as chairman of the Senate finance committee in crafting the overhaul of the US tax code, which was passed last month. Hatch was also a key player in the decision to shrink two Obama-era national monuments that Trump announced in Utah.
Later on Tuesday, Trump tweeted his congratulations “on an absolutely incredible career” and said Hatch had “been a tremendous supporter”.
“I will never forget the (beyond kind) statements he has made about me as president,” Trump wrote. “He is my friend and he will be greatly missed in the US Senate!”
Trump’s support has also been viewed as a move to stop Romney, who has privately expressed interest in Hatch’s seat, from declaring his candidacy. Hatch has been one of Trump’s most ardent defenders; Romney has been among the most vocal critics of Trump, as both candidate and president.
Romney is a former governor of Massachusetts but he is a Mormon and a Utah resident. He played a critical role in managing the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
A recent polled found that three in four Utahns thought Hatch should not seek an eighth term. A plurality expressed support for Romney taking his place.
Although Romney sought and secured Trump’s endorsement when he ran for the White House in 2012, the two engaged in a high-profile feud during the 2016 primary after Romney publicly urged his party not to nominate Trump. In a March 2016 speech, Romney called Trump “a phony” and “a fraud”.
“Dishonesty is Donald Trump’s hallmark,” Romney said, adding: “Think of Donald Trump’s personal qualities. The bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third-grade theatrics.”
Trump hit back, stating that Romney had begged for his endorsement in 2012. “I could have said, ‘Mitt, drop to your knees’ – he would have dropped to his knees,” Trump said.
The two briefly appeared willing to bury the hatchet after Trump won the presidency and considered Romney for secretary of state. Trump’s longtime ally Roger Stone, however, said the president-elect had only interviewed Romney as payback, “in order to torture him”.
Romney has continued to be a critic. Last summer, after Trump blamed both sides for violence in Charlottesville, Virginia in which a white supremacist drove his car into counter-protesters, killing one and injuring several, Romney called on the president to apologize.
“Whether he intended to or not, what he communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn,” Romney said.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said at Tuesday’s briefing she had not spoken to the president about whether he would support any attempt by Romney to succeed Hatch in the Senate.
“The president certainly has the greatest and deepest amount of respect for Senator Hatch and his over four decades of experience in the Senate,” she said.
Romney has until 15 March to file paperwork and run for Hatch’s seat.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
EXCLUSIVE: Full Audio Of White House official President Trump says ‘doesn’t exist’
On Thursday afternoon the White House held a “background briefing” where a “senior White House official” provided information on North Korea to reporters.
On Saturday, President Trump claimed the aide “doesn’t exist.”
The Failing @nytimes quotes “a senior White House official,” who doesn’t exist, as saying “even if the meeting were reinstated, holding it on June 12 would be impossible, given the lack of time and the amount of planning needed.” WRONG AGAIN! Use real people, not phony sources.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2018
A few hours later, a journalist posted partial audio of the call
4. I've obtained audio of the WH press briefing. You can hear Raj Shah, Deputy Press Secretary, introduce Pottinger (along with the terms – which are standard) and then Pottinger makes the statement that POTUS says was never made. Lots of reporters in briefing room and on phone. pic.twitter.com/2gEYkRSyTv
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) May 26, 2018
NewsThisSecond has obtained a recording of the background briefing in its entirety and is making it public.
Read President Trump’s Letter to Chairman Kim Jong Un canceling the summit between the two leaders
Text Version –
Kim Jong Un
Chairman of the State Affairs Commission
of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Dear Mr. Chairman:
We greatly appreciation your time, patience, and effort with respect to our recent negotiations and discussions relative to a summit long sought by both parties, which was scheduled to take place on June 12 in Singapore. We were informed that the meeting was requested by North Korea, but that to us is totally irrelevant. I was very much looking forward to being there with you. Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting. Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place. You talk about nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.
I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me, and ultimately, it is only that dialogue that matters. Some day, I look very much forward to meeting you. In the meantime, I want to thank you for the release of the hostages who are now home with their families. That was a beautiful gesture and was very much appreciated.
If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write. The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth. This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history.
Donald J. Trump
President of the United States of America
MELANIA TRUMP UNDERGOES KIDNEY SURGERY AT WALTER REED MEDICAL CENTER
First lady Melania Trump underwent kidney surgery Monday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center near Washington, DC, according to a statement from her office.
Trump had been experiencing an issue with her kidney that her office described as benign but requiring medical attention.
Trump, who turned 48 last month, entered Walter Reed in nearby Bethesda, Maryland, on Monday morning and is expected to remain hospitalized for several days following the operation, according to the statement from her communications director, Stephanie Grisham.
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