‘I don’t believe anybody should be above the law’: Gov. Cox talks Mar-a-Lago raid, monkeypox and drought at virtual town hall

Gov. Cox also discussed gas prices and the Uinta Basin Railway among other topics Tuesday.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox talks during a virtual town hall on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022.

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When asked about the FBI raid at former President Donald Trump’s home and office in Florida earlier this week, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said he believes no one is above the law.

Cox said during a virtual town hall Tuesday evening he doesn’t believe former presidents or their family members are exempt from the legal system, though he urged Utahns to be cautious and wait until all the facts come out.

“I think it’s important to say that I don’t believe anybody should be above the law if there is wrongdoing and if laws indeed were broken,” Cox said Tuesday. “And again, I have no way of knowing — I wish I did, I wish that we had more information so we can make this determination — but I don’t think that even former presidents should be having exceptions to the law.”

Cox emphasized the need for judgment to be withheld until the facts come out. He said he hopes the details of the raid are made public very soon.

“Democrats assume that this is the greatest thing ever and (would say) ‘of course he’s guilty’ and whatever it is, whatever the people imagine, and Republicans believe that this is truly political, that it’s wrong and that ‘we have to fight back,’” Cox said. “Both of those are the wrong reactions.”

The governor’s comments came after some Utah leaders criticized the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago. Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Chris Stewart both questioned whether Attorney General Merrick Garland personally approved of the search.

Cox began the virtual town hall by addressing the state’s drought conditions, saying Utah has been “so blessed” with large amounts of moisture in recent weeks. He said the state is still in a drought, as reservoirs are roughly 18% lower than they would normally be.

“But it could be a lot worse, and we thought it was going to be a lot worse,” Cox said.

One comment asked why gas prices in Utah continue to be high. Cox said the price of gas is on the decline in the Beehive State, although prices are not dropping as quickly as in other states. He pointed to the Russian invasion of Ukraine as one reason for high prices all across the world.

“We also, unfortunately, have a federal government that has been fairly punitive when it comes to oil and gas development here in the United States,” Cox said. “We have plenty of oil and gas here to not just supply us but to supply other parts of the world as well, including Europe.”

Cox also said another reason for high gas prices was a lack of refining capacity in Utah. He spoke positively about the recent decision for the Uinta Basin Railway, where a state judge threw out a lawsuit to potentially stall the project. The railway would haul oil from the Uinta Basin to refineries, something Cox said would “significantly reduce the cost of transporting that oil.”

The governor was later asked about monkeypox spread in Utah, and Cox said the state has 57 confirmed and probable cases of monkeypox, with most cases being reported in Salt Lake County. He said the spread of the virus has caused him concern; however, he added public health officials understand how it spreads, and the state is working on obtaining more monkeypox vaccines. Just over 2,000 people have received monkeypox vaccines, Cox said Tuesday.

“It’s a public health concern, but for most Utahns there is very little risk,” Cox said.

The virtual town hall lasted just under 40 minutes. Cox answered questions regarding the state’s shortage of teachers, election integrity and water conservation, among other topics.

The full town hall is available to watch on the governor’s Facebook page, as well as YouTube.