Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah broke with President Donald Trump as the lone GOP senator on Tuesday to vote against Michael Truncale to be a district court judge in Texas, citing Truncale's comments "disparaging of President Obama" in 2011 in explaining his vote.
The move was a notable sign of respect for Romney's former opponent in the hard-fought 2012 presidential race.
"He said some things disparaging of President (Barack) Obama and having been the Republican nominee in 2012, I couldn't sign onto that for a district judge," Romney told CNN when asked why he voted against Truncale, who was successfully confirmed in a 49-46 vote despite the senator's opposition.
Romney has been a frequent critic of Trump, although he has also supported him in a number of policy areas.
Truncale has come under scrutiny for having described Obama as an "un-American imposter" in remarks in 2011.
When California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, brought up the remarks in a series of questions to Truncale and pressed him to explain the comment, he wrote in a written response that "it is possible" that "I was merely expressing frustration by what I perceived as a lack of overt patriotism on behalf of President Obama."
Truncale also wrote that "as a judicial nominee, it would be inappropriate for me to offer comments on any political matters."
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights also cited the 2011 comments in a letter to senators asking them to oppose the nomination.