Republican Sen. Mitt Romney is the recipient of this year's John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for his vote to convict former President Donald Trump during his first impeachment trial "and his consistent and courageous defense of democracy."
"He was willing to risk his career and his popularity within his own party to do what's right for our country and to follow his conscience and Constitution and his impeachment votes," former Ambassador Caroline Kennedy told NBC News chief White House correspondent Peter Alexander on Friday in an exclusive interview on the "TODAY" show.
"I think his courage is an example for all of us," she said, adding that Romney's decision reflected the lawmakers from her father's book, for which the award is named.
Romney of Utah is the first senator in U.S. history to vote to convict a president in his own party. Trump was acquitted of allegations that he had solicited foreign interference in the 2020 presidential election.
"I'm very appreciative of the honor, but also humbled by it," Romney, 74, said, noting that he once ran against Ted Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy's late uncle.
Romney's vote created some enemies in his party, but he said he doesn't regret his decision.
"I sleep well because I know that I did what my conscience told me was the right thing to do," he said.
"We swore a diff oath when the impeachment trial began," Romney added. "We swore, under God, that we would apply impartial justice. I took that very, very seriously. I listened to the various testimonies that were provided, I looked into it with some depth ... and I felt that that was a severe enough violation of his oath of office to require a guilty verdict."
"What I've found throughout life is doing those things that you know are right which respond to the promptings of your conscience allows you to have a greater degree of happiness and satisfaction than if you just do things to try and get ahead."
Caroline Kennedy's son, Jack Schlossberg, 28, said that Romney's actions proved "that courage and faith and integrity are not outdated, and that politics can still be a noble profession."