ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
While Democratic lawmakers have been vocal in their criticism of President Trump during this impeachment inquiry, many Republicans have been silent. One exception is Utah Senator Mitt Romney. He's been a critic of the president on this issue. And this week, he also criticized Trump's decision to pull troops out of part of Syria.
Romney spoke with reporters today at an event in Salt Lake City. He's there while Congress is away on recess. KUER's Nicole Nixon was there, and she joins us now. Hi.
NICOLE NIXON, BYLINE: Hi.
SHAPIRO: So let's start with the subject of the impeachment inquiry, Trump's requests to Ukraine and China about an investigation into the Bidens. What did Senator Romney have to say about that today?
NIXON: So Romney has openly criticized the president on all of that. If you remember, that prompted sort of a tweet storm from President Trump over the weekend, slamming Romney. Today the senator reiterated that for a U.S. leader to ask a foreign government for help investigating a political rival, that's wrong, even if other Republican aren't really saying so.
MITT ROMNEY: People may try and stay silent and not talk about it at this stage. And I understand that because they want to wait until the process plays out and to see what ultimately comes forward and - but there is no question that, on its face, asking China to investigate Mr. Biden, asking Ukraine to do so, that's simply the wrong thing to do.
NIXON: Again, Romney is just one of a handful of congressional Republicans who's made a strong statement on this so far. And when he was asked why more Republicans haven't spoken out, Romney said that he does what he thinks is right and that he'll let others make their own decisions.
SHAPIRO: So Senator Romney is saying President Trump did the wrong thing. Is he saying he believes Trump should be impeached?
NIXON: So he made sure to draw a distinction between the China and Ukraine scandals and impeachment. He would not weigh in on impeachment or the impeachment inquiry today. He said that the inquiry is the House's job and that he really didn't want to speculate on any of that right now.
ROMNEY: As to whether the president should be removed or impeached, that's something which I would have to consider down the road. On that topic, I'm really not going to weigh in at this stage. I'd have to look at the evidence as it's presented.
NIXON: Romney also would not weigh in on whether the White House should cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. He said that the House needs to work that out. He also said that he has not talked about impeachment with any other Republican senators yet.
SHAPIRO: Well, now let's talk about the other issue where Romney and Trump strongly disagree, an issue on which Romney has a little more support among his Republican colleagues, and that is the president's promise to pull troops out of Syria, which has led to the Turkish attack on the Kurds there in northern Syria. How did Romney address that today?
NIXON: Again, this is an issue that he has openly criticized on Twitter. He's asked the Trump administration reconsider that. This does relate to his work. He's on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Romney is also the chairman of a subcommittee dealing with the Middle East and counterterrorism. So today he reiterated that the decision to pull out of Syria, he thinks, is a mistake.
ROMNEY: It's a tragic day for the people who lost their lives. And I think it's very sad for American foreign policy to show that we were unwilling to stand by the people who worked with us, our allies and our friends, the Kurds.
NIXON: Strong words there. Congress is back in session next week, so we'll see if they try to do anything about Syria. I think that we can also expect Mitt Romney to continue to speak out against President Trump on other issues that he disagrees with, as he has done in the past.
SHAPIRO: Nicole, Romney is a freshman senator. I know you've followed him for a long time. Does it look like he's becoming more bold about taking on the president?
NIXON: I think it really depends on the issue. He is pretty choosy about the types of issues that he decides to break and be vocal against President Trump on. I think Syria is one, and these scandals are another. They're different in the way that he has support from his GOP colleagues on those.
SHAPIRO: That is Nicole Nixon of member station KUER in Salt Lake City.
Thanks a lot.
NIXON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.