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Hundreds of Utahns rally for impeachment on eve of historic vote

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Several hundred people gather at the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building in Salt Lake City to call for President Donald Trump’s impeachment on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Several hundred Utahns gathered downtown in the freezing cold Tuesday night to rally in favor of impeaching President Donald Trump.

Hoisting signs and flanked by brightly-lit trees, the protesters called on members of the state’s congressional delegation to vote for impeachment, raising chants of “Rule of law,” “Stand with McAdams,” and “Thank you Ben,” a reference to Rep. Ben McAdams.

The Salt Lake rally was one of hundreds that took place across the country Tuesday on the eve of a scheduled vote on the articles of impeachment in the U.S. House of Representatives. The vote is expected to pass the House with the support of McAdams, Utah’s only Democratic member of Congress and the only Utahn who has said he will vote in favor of impeachment.

“Ben McAdams = courage,” one sign at the Salt Lake rally read. “Hey Mitt ... courage to do the right thing,” read another, addressing Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah.

“This is not about the left versus right,” said Jamie Carter, one of the organizers of the rally. “This is about wrong versus right.”

Organizers estimated about 1,000 people attended the Salt Lake rally.

A UtahPolicy.com poll published Monday shows Utahns split on the issue, with 47% saying that Congress should not impeach Trump and 43% in favor of impeaching the president.

The poll showed a divide along partisan lines, with 98% of Utahns who identify as strong Democrats supporting impeachment and 92% of those who call themselves strong Republicans opposing it. But about one in four independent voters who lean Republican said they also want to see the president impeached.

A handful of protesters at the rally held signs identifying themselves as Republicans or conservatives. Jean Kenney of Park City and Joseph Riddle of Salt Lake City stood on concrete blocks in the middle of the crowd, holding high signs that said: “True conservatives support the rule of law.”

Riddle said he considers himself conservative, but has felt a disconnect with the Republican Party as of late.

“I don’t think any principled person can vote for Republicans right now,” he said. “The rule of law is the most important thing we have ... and it’s in jeopardy.”

Going forward, he added, “the Republicans need to be willing to have a conversation.”

“I think this country is healthier when both parties are healthy and strong,” Kenney added. “That’s when we move the ball forward.”

Patty Kimball, of Holladay, with her golden retriever Moe in tow, said she decided to come to the rally Tuesday night at the last minute after a friend mentioned she was going.

Kimball described herself as “not very political” usually. “I just feel strongly that Utahns who are against Trump should let ourselves be heard,” she said. “I think Utahns are really decent people and I don’t think they stand for a lot of the shenanigans, the lying and the misbehavior.”

Speakers at the event included former Utah Congresswoman Karen Shepherd and former Utah Court of Appeals Judge Fred Voros. Mentions of McAdams drew cheers from the crowd, while mentions of Reps. Chris Stewart, Rob Bishop and John Curtis were met with boos.

Jay McLeod, of Taylorsville, who wore a hat bearing the word “IMPEACH,” said he hopes the rally sends a message to Utah’s congressional representatives.

“I just want them to know what I think,” McLeod said. “If they do vote for it, I support them. If they don’t, I still support them but I disagree with them very much. ... And if he is not removed from office, we will fight to remove him by the ballot box.”