Sen. Orrin Hatch (R), “the longest-serving Senate Republican, announced Tuesday that he will retire at the end of the year, rebuffing personal pleas from President Trump to seek an eighth term and paving the way for Mitt Romney, a critic of Mr. Trump’s, to run for the seat.”
“Romney’s potential ascent is particularly alarming to the White House because the former presidential candidate has an extensive political network and could use the Senate seat as a platform to again seek the nomination.”
Hatch “made his decision public on Tuesday afternoon via a video announcement.”
“When the president visited Utah last month, he said I was a fighter. I’ve always been a fighter. I was an amateur boxer in my youth, and I’ve brought that fighting spirit with me to Washington,” he said. “But every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves. And for me, that time is soon approaching.”
“In a statement he posted on Facebook on Tuesday, Mr. Romney made no mention of his intentions; he only saluted Mr. Hatch.”
“By Tuesday evening, Mr. Romney had updated his Twitter profile to change his location to Holladay, Utah, from Massachusetts. Mr. Romney intends to make his intentions known in a matter of weeks, according to an adviser who spoke on the condition of anonymity. His senior campaign team will include … [Spencer] Zwick; Matt Waldrip, who had been running Mr. Romney’s annual policy retreats; and his former chief of staff, Beth Myers.” (New York Times)
“Romney advisers said Tuesday that they expect him to run for the seat, although the man known for employing a methodical decision-making process has not made a final decision. One adviser said that any announcement would not come anytime soon.” (Boston Globe)
STAYING OUT. Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox (R) said he will not run for the seat and endorsed a Romney bid. (Twitter)
WHITE HOUSE REACTION. “White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday she had not discussed Romney’s potential candidacy with Trump and could not say whether the president would support him.” (AP)
BEHIND THE SCENES. During a phone call with Romney last month, Trump “told Romney that he knew he was thinking about running. But according to one person familiar with the conversation, the details of which have not been reported before, Trump didn’t press the former Massachusetts governor about his thinking or ask why he might be interested in being a senator. Romney’s aides came away convinced the president was trying to suss out Romney’s intentions and position himself as an ally, when he’d been anything but.”
Meanwhile, two other Republicans are being floated for the seat, including state Auditor John Dougall and state Rep. Daniel McCay, though Romney will be the heavy favorite if he runs. (Politico)
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"Two days after President Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian officials offered a string of assertions about what the two leaders had achieved. 'Important verbal agreements' were reached at the Helsinki meeting, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, told reporters in Moscow Wednesday, including preservation of the New Start and INF agreements," and cooperation in Syria.
"Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election. The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation. Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed."