Gangsterism is contagious

The gangsters are inside the house.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) has faced a bitter GOP backlash after casting the lone Republican vote for President Trump’s impeachment. There have been angry tweets and calls for the party to expel the man it once nominated to lead the country.

On Sunday, one influential conservative went so far as to say he could not be sure of Romney’s safety at a major right-wing gathering, alarming some of the Utah senator’s defenders and — in some critics’ eyes — crossing a line from outrage to threat.

Matt Schlapp, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference, made the controversial comments Sunday as he explained why Romney would be excluded from this year’s four-day event. Schlapp announced last month via tweet that the senator was “formally NOT invited,” as Romney took heat for breaking from staunch Republican support of the president to call for witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial.

The word for Republican support of Trump shouldn’t be “staunch.” That makes it sound admirable, like “loyal” and “dedicated” and “courageous.” I suggest mindless or slavish or shameful.

Schlapp has denied any threatening intent in his Sunday comments, tweeting that he has “no beef [with Romney’s] family” and hopes “they have happy healthy lives away from politics.”

Which is another barely-veiled threat.

The Republican National Committee blasted the lawmaker in an email last Wednesday under the subject line “Mitt Romney turns his back on Utah,” while Donald Trump Jr. declared on Twitter: “He’s now officially a member of the resistance & should be expelled” from the GOP.

And yet, back in 2016, many in that GOP knew he was rotten to the core.

Truth matters. Right matters.

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