Trump aides say the president’s bond with Hatch began long before Romney emerged as a potential successor. Hatch visited Trump in the Oval Office during the first week of his presidency for a lengthy discussion about the then-vacant Supreme Court seat and Utah’s national monuments.

Yet people close to Romney are convinced that Trump’s main motivation is to keep the 2012 GOP presidential nominee out of the Senate. Romney himself has expressed frustration with the ongoing uncertainty about Hatch’s plans, said three Republicans who’ve spoken with him recently. The former Massachusetts governor has pointed out that it was Hatch who urged him to consider running in the first place, but now appears to be wavering on whether to step aside…

Indeed, there’s widespread concern within the White House that Romney in the Senate could make Trump’s life difficult. During the 2016 campaign, the former Massachusetts governor emerged as the de-facto leader of the GOP establishment’s “Never Trump” campaign, delivering a nationally-watched speech in which he blasted candidate Trump as a “phony, a fraud” and implored the party to stop him.