Utah progressives and nonpartisan groups call for fair Senate impeachment trial during rally

About 100 Utahns and a coalition of mostly progressive groups gathered Thursday outside the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building in Salt Lake City to call on Utah Sens. Mitt Romney and Mike Lee to “vote their conscience” and push for a fair and impartial Senate impeachment trial for President Donald Trump.

The rally and news conference held earlier in the day were both aimed at urging Romney and Lee to consider all of the evidence as the Senate trial formally begins and to vote for the common good when it is time to decide the president’s fate.

“I ask [Romney] to look into his conscience and think about the people that he represents, to not look the other way,” said MoveOn organizer Laurie Woodward Garcia. “There is no justice in a nation that looks the other way and ignores evidence.”

Lex Scott, founder of Black Lives Matter Utah, said it is important to hold elected officials accountable when it comes to checking Trump and holding him accountable for his actions.

“Basically, the bar is so low in D.C. that Republicans are letting Trump get away with murder,” Scott said. “The fact that we have to ask for an impartial trial is really telling.”

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) A coalition of progressive groups gathers Thursday outside the federal building in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020 to push for a fair and impartial Senate impeachment hearing against President Donald Trump.

Protesters stood on the corner of State Street and 100 South, chanting and holding signs critical of Trump to try to reach drivers stuck in rush hour traffic. Some of the drivers shouted back phrases such as “Trump 2020” and “I love Trump.”

Vote Common Good, a bipartisan progressive evangelical group, joined the rally at MoveOn’s request to try to reach religious voters and persuade them to vote using their morals as a guide.

According to Doug Paggit, the executive director of Vote Common Good, the organization wants faith voters to ask their senators to make the common good their voting criteria.

Christy Berghoef, an organizer with Vote Common Good, said that “it seems as if the moral spine of Congress has deteriorated to the point where they can no longer stand up straight.”

She said that the dominant Republican narrative about evangelical voters as a bloc being devoted to Trump is not representative of the faith community.

Catherine Eslinger, co-leader of the Utah chapter of Mormon Women for Ethical Government, said that the nonpartisan group that includes progressives, moderates and conservatives is taking a stand because truth in politics is the only way to heal a divided nation.

“We believe truth is both discernible and powerful, impaired only by those who seek to sustain control through misinformation and obfuscation,” Eslinger said.