A crowd of hundreds gathered Tuesday evening in Salt Lake City to rally in support of impeaching President Donald Trump, ahead of a scheduled vote on articles of impeachment in the U.S. House on Wednesday.
The Utah event, held in conjunction with similar events across the country, was bookended by attendees reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and featured several speakers who emphasized that no American is above the rule of law, including the president of the United States.
“We are not jubilant tonight. We are not celebratory tonight," said Joanne Slotnik, a founder of the activist group Salt Lake Indivisible. "This is a solemn moment in our country's history."
Slotnik said that after Trump’s election in 2016, she never imagined that the president would demonstrate a “total disregard for oversight" by directing his staff to ignore congressional subpoenas, or that he would ask the leader of a foreign nation to aid his reelection by digging up dirt on a political rival.
Those actions, disputed by Trump and his supporters, form the backbone of the House’s articles of impeachment, which include charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
But Slotnik said Trump’s failures as president go beyond the impeachable offenses that House representatives will consider Wednesday.
“The list of obstructive, self-serving, damaging, unpatriotic and unpresidential conduct could go on and on,” Slotnik said.
A majority of the Democratic-controlled House is expected to approve the articles of impeachment against Trump, but among Utah’s federal delegation only Rep. Ben McAdams, a Democrat, has stated that he will support the action.
McAdams was praised and cheered at several moments during Tuesday’s rally — held at the Wallace F. Bennett Building at State Street and 100 South — while references to the three Republican representatives from Utah were met with boos and jeers.
“This isn’t about left versus right,” said rally organizer Jamie Carter. “This is about wrong versus right.”
Other speakers at Tuesday’s event described Trump’s presidency as a threat to democracy. Fred Voros, a former judge for the Utah Court of Appeals, referred to a now-infamous campaign statement by then-candidate Trump that he could shoot someone on New York City’s Fifth Avenue without losing the support of a single voter, saying that it’s indicative of Trump’s lack of respect for laws and accountability.
“If he were above the law, we would not have a republic. We would have a monarchy,” Voros said. “That’s what a king is, someone who is above the law, who can do no wrong.”
Karen Shepherd, a former congresswoman, suggested that Trump will inevitably be acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate, rather than be removed from office.
After that happens, she said, it will be up to voters to end his presidency, adding that the upcoming 2020 election will be “the most important election of our life.”
“He [will have] been impeached, they can’t do it again. There are no checks, there are no balances and he will be king,” Shepherd said. “We do not want a king.”
The importance of voting in 2020 was also stressed by Donna McAleer, an Army veteran who has run for Congress in Utah’s 1st District against Republican Rep. Rob Bishop. She described the people’s voice and vote as their two superpowers and urged rallygoers to employ both.
And Jeremy Reynoso, a kindergarten teacher and the concluding speaker during Tuesday’s event, said that the groups who are most disadvantaged are the most vital force for democracy. He said he felt like a second-class citizen as a child and was regularly disparaged due to the color of his skin, but that he now rejects those lies.
“Never forget that you are power, within you is the source,” Reynoso said. “No one can diminish your power and together we brilliantly magnify each other.”