Utah politicians address whistleblower complaint

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President Donald Trump talks with reporters before leaving on Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019. Utah politicians are divided on what action should be taken in light of a whistleblower complaint alleging President Trump worked with a foreign power to undermine Joe Biden’s campaign for the 2020 elections. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Utah’s congressional representatives are among those on edge over the whistleblower complaint alleging President Donald Trump sought help from Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 elections.

Both the Senate and the House passed resolutions demanding that the whistleblower complaint be unclassified, then on Tuesday, Sept. 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the House is launching a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump’s conduct.

On Wednesday, Sept. 25, the White House released a reconstructed version of a phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. This morning, the unclassified whistleblower complaint was released to the public.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and freshman Democrat Rep. Ben McAdams, supported calls for the whistleblower complaint to be released, saying it was necessary.

In a tweet posted Sunday, Sept. 22, Romney said the whistleblower complaint would be “troubling in the extreme” if deemed true.

McAdams also said he found the allegations to be problematic.

“The whistleblower complaint released today is deeply troubling, as is the phone call summary that was released yesterday. I joined Republicans and Democrats in unanimous support of the House resolution calling on the administration to produce the whistleblower complaint and I am glad it was publicly released. Members of both parties should put partisanship aside and come together to gather all the facts and carefully consider them before deciding how to proceed,” McAdams said.

Although Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, supported the release of both the whistleblower complaint and Trump’s phone call summary, his views on the issue are less charged than Romney and McAdams.

In a press release dated Sept. 25, Curtis expressed the importance of ensuring that any investigation into the whistleblower complaint or potential impeachment should be apolitical and based on facts. He also called on Congress to conduct oversight on the proceedings.

“Impeachment inquiries are deeply serious matters and should not be entered into lightly,” Curtis said. “I am pleased the President has released the transcript of his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and that the director of national intelligence and the intelligence community inspector general will appear before the House Intelligence Committee (on Sept. 26) to add additional valuable context. The next step is to ensure the House and Senate committees have access to the whistleblower report. It is imperative that all of the facts come forward and I am hopeful these matters can proceed without the influence of partisan politics.”

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, also urged Congress to work together to get the facts straight in a tweet posted on Sept. 24.

“It is critical for Congress to perform oversight on the executive without drawing conclusions first,” Stewart said. “To have a serious and fair hearing, we cannot start with the conclusion before we have reviewed all the evidence. I am committed to working with my colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee to uncover all the facts.”

Stewart posted another tweet after reading the whistleblower complaint the next day.

“I have reviewed the whistleblower complaint made available to the House Intelligence Committee. I do not believe this alone warrants the impeachment of President Trump. This complaint should be declassified and made available to the public,” he said.

While Utah congress members like Romney and McAdams have taken more moderate stances regarding the complaint, Sen Mike Lee and Rep. Rob Bishop, both R-Utah, expressed their utter disapproval of the impeachment inquiry and the attention the whistleblower complaint has received.

During a Facebook live town hall meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 25, Lee said the whistleblower scandal was another attempt to undermine Trump and suggested the whistleblower may have partisan motives.

“There are those who don’t like this president who have been trying to have him impeached and removed since the day he took office,” Lee said at the meeting. “And for those people, perhaps they see this as an opportunity. It’s a fleeting one and it’s one that they might try to exercise but if they try to exercise it, it will be unwise. It will backfire and I think it would also be unfair to President Trump.”

He said Trump’s phone call was not an attempt to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, former Vice President and current presidential candidate. Instead, he said, Trump just asked Zelensky for his cooperation with U.S. domestic law enforcement and the enforcement of U.S. domestic law.

“Asking a foreign government to do that is not grounds for impeachment,” Lee said.

Similarly, Bishop said in a press release that calls for Trump’s impeachment over the whistleblower complaints are “a political effort to minimize the voice of the people.”

“Impeachment is the ultimate power Congress has over a president and should be used as a last resort, not for purely political purposes,” Bishop said. “Since the election of President Trump, some have frantically searched for any justification to nullify the will of the people. They are still at it and there is not sufficient evidence to justify this approach.”

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