The claim: Mitt Romney suggested Donald Trump will spend his retirement in jail
A Sept. 18 Instagram post (direct link, archive link) shows screenshots of two social media posts, including one on X, formerly Twitter, supposedly sent by Sen. Mitt Romney in response to former President Donald Trump.
“The former President believes it’s a win for him that I am retiring but I assure you that I will not be the one spending the remainder of my retirement in jail,” the statement attributed to Romney said.
Many commenters took the post seriously.
“Romney went there. He’s my temporary hero,” wrote one.
“Mitt for the WIN,” wrote another.
The Instagram post was shared more than 3,000 times in one day.
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Our rating: Satire
No such post exists in Romney’s X feed, and his spokesperson says he did not post it. The Instagram user said it was satire, and the original image contains a label clearly marking it as parody.
'We never tweeted that'
Romney, a Republican elected by Utah voters to the U.S. Senate in 2018, said in a video posted to X on Sept. 13 that he will not seek re-election in 2024.
Trump responded hours later in an all-caps post to Truth Social that Romney “did not serve with distinction," referring to him as Pierre Delecto, the pseudonym Romney used for his anonymous Twitter account.
The Instagram post included screen grabs of Trump’s post along with the purported reply from Romney.
The post from Trump is real. The one attributed to Romney is not. It does not appear in Romney’s verified X feed.
“We never tweeted that,” Romney spokesperson Paige Waltz told USA TODAY.
The Instagram user explained that it was satire both in the caption and in response to a commenter who asked about its legitimacy.
USA TODAY traced the image to an X post from a satire account. The account biography states that “most of the images we share are parodies," and a line superimposed near the bottom of the image labels it that way. That line was cropped out of the version in the Instagram post.
Romney has been a longtime critic of Trump. He voted to convict him after both of his impeachments and accused the GOP in 2020 of straying from the principles he associated with the party and revolving around Trump, as reported by Politico.
Romney was the lone Senate Republican to vote to convict Trump after he was impeached for pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Biden family. Six others from the GOP joined him in voting to convict Trump after his impeachment for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riots. Trump was acquitted by the Senate in both cases.
Trump has been charged on multiple felony counts: in New York with falsifying business records, in Miami with improperly handling classified documents, in Washington with conspiracy and obstruction related to efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and in Fulton County, Georgia, with racketeering and other charges related to election interference in that state.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and has denied wrongdoing. In the New York case, Romney came to Trump’s defense, saying in April that the prosecutor was stretching to fit a political agenda.
USA TODAY reached out to the social media user who shared the post but did not immediately receive a response.
Our fact-check sources:
Paige Waltz, Sept. 20, Phone interview with USA TODAY
Mitt Romney, Sept. 13, X post
Mitt Romney, accessed Sept. 20, X profile
USA TODAY, Feb. 12, 2020, Voters approve of Romney's impeachment vote to convict Trump 50%-39%, poll finds
USA TODAY, Sept. 11, Why was Donald Trump arrested? What to know about his 4 indictments
The Hill, Feb. 13, 2021, Seven GOP senators vote to convict Trump
Politico, Feb. 20, 2020, Romney: GOP ‘has strayed’ from what he once knew
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Post claiming Romney made jail quip to Trump is satire | Fact check