West Jordan • Scores of Utahns butted heads Wednesday — sometimes almost literally — in a parking lot outside the office of Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, to cheer or jeer his belated support of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
It started when Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee scheduled a news conference and rally there to attack McAdams. But the freshman congressman’s supporters and Trump critics showed up with about three times as many people to outshout them.
“Thank you, Ben,” McAdams’ supporters chanted, while the other side yelled back, “For what?”
As the pro-impeachment side of about 100 chanted, “Trump broke the law.” The Trump-supporting group of about 35 people yelled at the same time, “Ben broke the law.”
Both sides managed to chant one saying together: “Truth will win.”
Opposing protesters waved signs in one another’s faces. One man wearing a Vietnam veteran hat (he declined to give his name) ripped a sign out of a protester’s hands and threw it to the ground after he said it was held too close to his face.
“I don’t care if they protest,” the man said. “But they can’t violate my personal space.” Some Republicans said that confrontation actually and accidentally was between two Trump supporters, but the man in the hat would not confirm it. He and others nearly came to blows at other times, before others calmed them.
As the wind blew, rain threatened and the crowds yelled, it may have been a metaphor of how America is divided on the issue.
Former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes — who is gearing up to run for governor and was one of the earliest and strongest supporters of Trump among Utah politicians — was the main speaker for the Trump/RNC news conference. He charged U.S. House Democrats are ignoring the law with their inquiry by not holding a House vote first, and by giving Republicans little voice in it.
Using a bullhorn to be heard over opposing voices, he called the Democrats’ inquiry a “clown show that is not an impeachment, that doesn’t have any resemblance to it in terms of process.”
He added, “Don’t make this just boil down into just a partisan attack, one side versus the other. ... We have a Constitution for a reason. It’s not being followed.”
The U.S. Constitution is direct and brief on the topic of impeachment, saying the House “shall have the sole power of impeachment” and the Senate “the sole power to try all impeachments.” It does outline a handful of basic rules for the Senate but not the House.
In a telephone interview after the protests, which took place outside his office while he was away attending an event honoring women involved in technology businesses or education, McAdams defended his stance supporting the impeachment inquiry.
“What we’re doing is ascertaining facts and receiving testimony. That’s what a legislative body does whether it’s about how to improve health care or lower the cost of prescription drugs — or to better understand the president’s actions and the motive behind his action.”
He added, “I agree with Senator [Mitt] Romney. The allegations are serious, and that warrants attention from the House. We need to get all of the facts on the table before we decide how to proceed. So what’s happening right now is a fact-finding process, and I support getting those facts on the table.”
McAdams did not support the impeachment process until last Friday and was among one of the final Democrats to do so. One reason he had tried to tread lightly is that he won his seat by just 694 votes last year, unseating former Rep. Mia Love in the Republican-leaning 4th Congressional District.
State Rep. Kim Coleman, R-West Jordan, who is running for the seat, attended the news conference attacking McAdams. “The fact this [impeachment inquiry] is a one-sided process that actually lacks a process, is very concerning to me,” she said. “I don’t like when people are denied due process and fairness.”
Protesters on both sides gave wide-ranging reasons why they support or dislike the impeachment process.
Cindy De Roda, a retired teacher who lives in Murray and says she is a political independent, said she came to support McAdams because “Trump is a traitor to this country and a traitor to American values. He has shown that time and time again, and it’s enough. He needs to be impeached.”
Bountiful resident Sylvia Miera-Fisk said she came to support Trump because “there has been nothing but silliness to discredit our president. He won the election. It’s not like he was crowned king for the rest of his life. It’s a four-year term. We have elections. We have a process.”
Kristy Withers of Salt Lake City said she came to push for impeachment because “enough is enough. Trump is not above the rule of law.”
Cynthia Hardy, from Utah County, said, “Everything Trump tries to do, they try to stop. ... I’m here to encourage McAdams to stop supporting [House Intelligence Committee Chairman] Adam Schiff, who has lied many times, maybe millions of times to the people, and also [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi who also does not tell the truth.”
South Jordan resident Breanna Reams said evidence against Trump “is pretty cut and dried,” and “he has obviously committed crimes, and his various attempts to shield himself from indictment, impeachment and investigation show he has no respect for the rule of law and he should be removed from office immediately.”
Kevin Howard, from South Jordan, is an independent. “I didn’t even vote for Trump, but I am now. He’s been fighting for the people of this country since he was elected.” He carried an especially large Trump 2020 sign — and remained to verbally battle Trump critics when most of his allies had retreated to a far corner in the parking lot.
The Trump/RNC news conference is part of a national effort the campaign has launched against House Democrats, which they call “stop the madness.” They have vowed to include ads against Democrats in vulnerable districts, including McAdams.
When the RNC was asked Wednesday what type and how many ads it may run against McAdams, a spokesman said, “That is for the RNC to know and for Democrats to find out."