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Romney on Barr resignation: ‘Not surprised that he could no longer associate himself with the process that’s going on now’

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told CNBC that he is “not surprised” upon hearing news of Attorney General William Barr’s resignation from the Justice Department. 

“It was clear that being part of the [Trump] administration was a challenging responsibility for him, to say the least,” Romney said. “I’m not surprised that he could no longer associate himself with the process that’s going on now.” 

President Donald Trump broke the news about Barr’s resignation via Twitter, and said that he would be leaving the Justice Department before Christmas. It comes less than two weeks after the attorney general debunked the president’s unfounded claims that the election was rigged, and said that the FBI had found zero evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Romney added that he is “concerned” about the “cause of democracy” not only in the United States, but also around the world, when it comes to the president’s false voter fraud claims. 

“The biggest concern I have is that people here genuinely believe that somehow this election was stolen, and there’s not evidence of that, and the president was saying it was stolen even before Election Day happened,” said Romney during a pre-taped interview Monday evening on “The News with Shepard Smith.” “What’s going on now, I’m afraid, is terribly dispiriting to people all over the globe.” 

Romney is also part of the bipartisan group of lawmakers who introduced the two-part $908 billion stimulus effort. Lawmakers are now splitting the original $908 billion bipartisan proposal into two bills, putting everything they agree on in one bill and everything they disagree on in another bill. Romney told host Shepard Smith that he thinks it has a chance of passing. 

“You’re seeing actually a number of people come forward with support,” Romney said. “We’re hoping either in total or in pieces, this will get passed and help will get to people that need it very badly.” 

In the potential compromise, states would get $160 billion in three installments over the next six months. The payments would be partly based on population and on how much money each state has actually lost. The bill would additionally raise the bar for suing businesses, however, that protection would only last the duration of the pandemic. 

Some of the widely agreed upon items, including $748 billion covering unemployment benefits, small businesses, vaccines and education, went into a separate bill. Neither House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., nor Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have agreed to bring the bipartisan compromise up for a vote, however, and Romney said he was not yet confident that either leader would.

“We have people that are going to lose their unemployment insurance the day after Christmas, and to keep that from happening is a high priority,” Romney said. “We want help for people that also need mental help facilities, we need help for small businesses, desperately, and we got a lot of businesses just hanging on, so this is another round of PPP grants and loans to small businesses.” 

Stimulus checks are not included in the bipartisan compromise. Romney noted that the people who need the money to pay rent and to eat, will get assistance. 

“Sending checks to people who don’t need it doesn’t strike us as high of priority as getting checks to people who are unemployed, and who can’t pay the rent and are looking for food,” said Romney.  

It has been 262 days since the last relief bill, and the nation has crossed another grim milestone. The coronavirus pandemic has now killed more than 300,000 people in the U.S. since February. More than 1 in 10 of the deaths have been reported since the beginning of December, and, over the course of the pandemic, the U.S. has been averaging about 1,000 deaths per day,  according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins data.

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