SALT LAKE CITY — As House prosecutors were making their case against President Donald Trump, one of Utah’s senators said he believes more than ever that the impeachment trial grew out of the “deep state.”
“The more I learn about this impeachment case, the more I become completely convinced of the fact that this is a manifestation of the deep state pushing back against a president they deeply despise,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said in a Facebook video.
Lee also went off on the witnesses who testified in the House, calling them “full on members of the deep state establishment” and people who made their living in the “military-industrial-intelligence complex.”
Trump, he said, has a different foreign policy style and different objectives than his predecessors, and that upsets career bureaucrats. The president doesn’t defer to the State Department or the National Security Council or the Defense Department, he said.
“They regard that as a threat to them personally, professionally, perhaps a threat to their power structure, to their own personal ambition, their ability to accumulate power, so they freak out,” Lee said.
While Lee posts his take on the impeachment trial on his political and personal Facebook pages every day, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, has been largely silent.
About 50 people marched in the chilly rain Friday outside Romney’s downtown Salt Lake office to demand he support a fair trial so that people can hear all the evidence, including testimony from witnesses such as former national security adviser John Bolton. Several carried brooms to send a message to the senator to stop sweeping justice under the carpet.
Rally organizer Laurie Woodward said it’s not about Democrats and Republicans, but senators paying attention to the facts and doing their job.
David Sanders, a 66-year-old veteran, gave an emphatic speech to the crowd from atop a bench.
“The truth must come out. And the truth can only be found knowing exactly what happened. And we need witnesses. We need evidence. We need people who will put country before party. And for you, Sen. Romney, you can’t handle the truth,” he said, enunciating each word slowly and loudly.
Unlike Lee, Romney said he is open to hearing from Bolton and others, but that the Senate should not consider a vote on witnesses until after opening arguments.
The impeachment trial centers on a whistleblower’s complaint about a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, during which Trump allegedly leveraged military aid and a sought-after White House visit in exchange for Ukraine investigating political rival Joe Biden and his son.
In his Facebook posts, Lee went on to say those government bureaucrats have come to think of themselves as the “smart set.”
Trump made a decision they find “repugnant” and more repugnant because the president disagrees with them, Lee said. He said they see their Ph.D.s, careers and work experience being invalidated.
“That’s what a lot of this seems to be about. For many of them, this is deeply personal. He has stepped on their grass. He has taken a bite out of their apple,” he said.
Lee also said the more he learns about the Democrats’ case, the more he sees it as a “flagrant abuse” of the impeachment power. They’re not just trying to remove Trump from office but take him off of the election ballot.
“These people, like the deep state folks who have been witnesses in this case, are telling you that they know more than you, they’re smarter than you and that you can’t be entrusted to elect him president of the United States,” Lee said. “It’s not fair. We shouldn’t put up with it.”
Trump invited Lee to join him Friday morning at the annual March for Life rally in Washington to protest abortion and the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling.