When this story first start percolating online yesterday, I more or less thought it was a joke. It wasn't.
President Donald Trump tapped every Republican senator to join a congressional group aimed at reopening America amid coronavirus -- except Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah. Romney, the party's 2012 presidential nominee, was the only GOP senator to vote to convict Trump in his impeachment trial earlier this year. Romney voted to convict Trump on the abuse of power charge and voted to acquit him on the obstruction of Congress charge.
The White House created a new task force yesterday -- by some counts, its fifth related to the pandemic -- made up of lawmakers who'll comprise the "Opening Up America Again Congressional Group." Team Trump posted the full list of members yesterday afternoon, and it's not short: 32 U.S. House members will join 65 U.S. senators on the advisory panel.
But it's the list of senators that's noticeable. The entirety of the Senate Republican conference has 53 members -- and 52 of them were invited to participate in the new White House group. The only GOP senator to be excluded is the only GOP senator who considered the evidence against Donald Trump in his impeachment trial and voted to remove the president from office on one count.
To be sure, this is a continuation of a larger pattern. In early February, while Trump was largely overlooking a series of warnings related to the coronavirus threat, he focused much of his energies on attacking the junior senator from Utah in the wake of his impeachment. That offensive, evidently, hasn't ended.
But the broader global circumstances have obviously changed. Two weeks ago, the president stood in the White House press briefing room and declared, "I want to remind everyone here in our nation's capital, especially in Congress, that this is not the time for politics."
Two weeks later, Team Trump's interest in politics -- and the president's limitless capacity for feeling aggrieved -- continues unabated.
New York's Jon Chait joked yesterday, "One possibility is that the former Bain Capital executive, Olympics chairman, and Massachusetts governor is less qualified to give advice about management and job creation than the other members of his caucus, and they only had room for 52 Senate Republicans on the letterhead."
The other possibility is that the president's pettiness continues to get the better of him.