SALT LAKE CITY — More than 40 elected and formerly elected Utah officials, mostly from rural Utah, are calling on Utah’s congressional delegation to use all its means to “resist and oppose” the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
In their letter sent this month to the Utah delegation, they say the effort is necessary to protect the disenfranchisement of 2016 voters and to defend Trump as a “true friend” of Utah.
“As elected officials of Utah, we watched in disbelief as House democrat leaders launched what they call a ‘Presidential Impeachment Inquiry,’ without securing the vote of the entire House needed to legally authorize it,” the letter reads.
“This is an outrage of historic proportion playing out before our eyes. Presuming to impeach President Trump over this phone call based on a hearsay complaint without so much as a full House vote, with a strong suspicion of prior Committee chairmanship coordination with the supposedly secret whistleblower, lays bare the backroom politics and personal hatred and revenge that have metastasized throughout much of the Democratic party ever since President Trump was elected,” the letter continues.
The letter is in reaction to House Democrats launching an impeachment inquiry of the president after a whistleblower came forward to allege Trump strong-armed Ukraine’s president in a telephone call to investigate Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden and his son’s actions in the country during the 2016 election.
The call for impeachment came a day before Trump released a transcript of the telephone call, which his supporters say demonstrates no impeachable offense occurred.
“When the transcript came out and showed no quid-pro-quo nor anything else resembling criminal conduct, we watched as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, already notorious with Republicans for lack of credibility, twisted and distorted that transcript into a libelous smear of President Trump” in his opening statement of the committee hearing, the letter said.
Piute County Commissioner Darin Bushman said the signatories to the letter are frustrated and fed up with the Democrats’ behavior in Congress against the president.
“I think it is complete foolishness. They need to be working on the people’s business,” he said. “It is a continuation of what they started before the man was even sworn into office.”
Signatories include some commissioners and other elected officials from 12 counties in Utah, as well as eight members of the Utah Legislature.
New poll numbers
A new poll by Dan Jones & Associates conducted for the Salt Lake Chamber shows 56% of polled Utahns oppose the impeachment inquiry, while 42% are in favor and 3% didn’t know. The poll tapped 599 respondents and has a margin of error of 3.5%.
Trump enjoys a 53% favorability rating among those polled, even as 46% of respondents said it was time to give someone “new a chance to serve.” Fifty percent of respondents said Trump should be elected to another term.
Bushman said the letter was prompted because of the unprecedented access rural leaders are getting to the White House administration to express their concerns over challenges in the West.
“Every commissioner I have spoken to is aghast that the administration is opening up and listening to local officials,” he said. “We have an administration that is finally listening to rural America.”
On two different occasions, Bushman said he’s been able to sit down and talk with White House staffers about issues he said Congress has kicked down the road for years.
“I’ve walked out with documents in hand with names and numbers if we have an issue with this or that, which was completely unheard of in the prior administration,” he said.
The White House, in fact, just concluded its 2019 Regional State Leadership Days Initiative with local elected officials from Alabama, Florida and Georgia. The White House’s Intergovernmental Team said since the beginning of the Trump administration, more than 5,000 county, municipal, and tribal officials and other invited guests have participated in one of “45 State Leadership Days.”
Such outreach has prompted leaders from the National Association of Counties to praise the Trump administration for its willingness to be a strong federal partner on a variety of issues, including public lands management and the opioid epidemic.
The Utah letter urges the delegation to denounce the “unfounded attacks” on Trump and wants a report back on what individual members are doing.
Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said he shares many of the concerns raised in the Utah letter.
“House Democrats are making a mockery of the impeachment process by refusing to bring a formal vote to the House floor. Holding hearings behind closed doors — away from the eyes of the American people, with no regard for due process — is not a legitimate investigation.”
Stewart added in his statement that if there was any substance to what was happening in the closed-door hearings, they would actually be held in the open.
“But there’s nothing. That is why they insist on holding these meetings in secret.”
On Fox News Sunday, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said Trump has not done anything impeachable and called the idea that some of the GOP members of the Senate would pursue impeachment a “science fiction fantasy.”
On the House floor Tuesday night, Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, turned to alliteration to call out the impeachment inquiry.
“I pause to put a plea to the powers that be, our people deserve better. This propaganda pushed on people is a political ploy as perpetrators usurp the proven precedents of the past. It is painful to be placed in a position to protest the pranks pushed by Pelosi and her posse of players, but people have been pushed out and put on the sidelines as Democrats plow ahead with this so-called impeachment inquiry,” he said, referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “The impact of this pandering is the peeling away of the people’s trust placed upon us.”
Sen. Mitt Romney has been a frequent, outspoken critic of the president and called Trump’s public call on China and Ukraine to investigate Biden “brazen and unprecedented.”
“I don’t think there’s any question but that going on TV on the White House lawn and saying, ‘China, will you investigate my political opponent?’ is wrong. It’s a mistake. It was shocking, in my opinion, for the president to do so,” he said Sunday on HBO.
Romney’s press secretary, Arielle Mueller, said Wednesday the Utah Republican appreciates the thoughts and concerns of Utah residents.
“He will keep an open mind and reserve any final judgment until all of the facts are known,” she said.
Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, said he responded to a Facebook post by Bushman over the letter, saying he values the relationship he has with rural county officials as a former county official himself.
Still, McAdams said Trump’s refusal to cooperate with Congress on its oversight of the impeachment matter has been regrettable.
“Throughout this process, I have been and remain concerned about the perception that Congress has prejudged the outcome of the process — but an inquiry is necessary to get all the facts on the table. I pledge to remain objective and will reserve final judgment until the process concludes and I call on my Republican and Democratic colleagues to do the same.
Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, did not respond to a request for comment.
The signatories on the letter are: Iron County Commissioner Alma Adams; San Juan County Commissioner Bruce Adams; Rep. Carl Albrecht, R-Richfield; Piute County Assessor Dale Bagley; Sanpete County Commissioners Scott Bartholomew, Steven Lund and Edwin Sunderland; Wayne County Commissioners Dennis Blackburn, Newell Harward and Stan Wood; Iron County Commissioners Michael Bleak and Paul Cozzens; Iron County School Board member Dale Brinkerhoff; Piute County Attorney Scott Burns; Piute County Commissioners Darin Bushman, Scott Dalton and Will Talbot; Piute County Sheriff Marty Gleave; Rep. Kay Christofferson, R-Lehi; Rep. Kim Coleman, R-West Jordan; Beaver County Commissioners Michael Dalton, Tammy Pearson and Mark Whitney; Millard County Commissioner Dean Draper; Washington County Commissioner Victor Iverson; former Washington County Commissioner Alan Gardner; UIntah County Commissioners Bart Haslem and Brad Horrocks; Rep. Jon Hawkins, R-Pleasant Grove; Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding; Daggett County Commissioner Jack Lytle; former Iron County Commissioner David Miller; Piute County Recorder Shane A. Millett; Beaver County Sheriff Cameron Noel; Sevier County Commissioner Tooter Ogden; Sen. Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe; Rep. Derrin Owens, R-Fountain Green; Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins; Garfield County Commissioners Leland Pollock, Jerry Taylor and David Tebbs; Rep. Val Potter, R-Logan; Wayne County Assessor Sharon Torgerson; and Grand County Councilman Curtis Wells.