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Commentary: An open letter to Sen. Hatch

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Senator Orrin G. Hatch and The Orrin G. Hatch Foundation announced Wednesday, May 2, 2018 of a formal partnership with the University of Utah to erect a new facility to house Senator Hatch's archives from his 42 years in the Senate as well as offer forums to help train future leaders and discussions of policy. The new facility will be located across the street from the Thomas S. Monson Center at 411 E. South Temple and will honor the legacy of Utah's long-serving senator who is retiring early next year.

Dear Senator Hatch,

As an organization of over 6,000 women, many of whom are your constituents, share your faith, and have worked closely with you and your staff, we are dismayed at your continued defense of things that are fundamentally indefensible. Knowing that you aspire to be a man of honor, we are puzzled by your frequent wresting of truth and logic as you excuse our current administration.

You defended President Trump when he retweeted anti-Muslim videos. You minimized evidence that Donald Trump Jr. had met with a representative of the Russian government about information that could influence the election, saying it wasn’t “relevant.” You defended the president’s endorsement of Alabama Senate candidate, Roy Moore. You defended President Trump again, even after initially denouncing his remarks that “both sides” were to blame in the deadly alt-right rally in Charlottesville last August, when in a later interview with KUTV you called the president a “good man” and placed the blame on his detractors and the media who “distort” what he says.

We do acknowledge and appreciate the few times that you have called the president out. We applaud your courage when, for example, you disagreed with his criticism of Germany earlier this summer and when he recently called former White House Staffer, Omarosa Manigault Newman a “dog.” But again on Wednesday, in an interview with The New York Times, you minimized the testimony by Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, given under oath, that he had been directed by President Trump to break the law. And then, using what can only be characterized as fuzzy and twisted logic, you attempted to justify Mr. Trump’s alleged deplorable and criminal behavior by saying: “I think most people in this country realize that Donald Trump comes from a different world. He comes from New York City, he comes from a slam-bang, difficult world. It is amazing he is as good as he is.”

What?

So we are to excuse Donald Trump — the president of the United States, the holder of the highest office in the land — from possible High Crimes and Misdemeanors because ... he is from New York City? And, therefore, presumably, just can’t help himself? That is an insult to all New Yorkers. (And we won’t even get into the fact that Trump hardly grew up in the slums and had one of the most privileged of all upbringings.)

The truth is, some of our finest are from New York City — including Lady Liberty herself (an immigrant, actually — from France — but a New Yorker now for 132 years) whose uplifted torch still stands as a beacon of hope and freedom and as a call to the world to “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” It’s a wholly preposterous argument that we should cut our president some slack because he’s from NYC, or anywhere else for that matter.

Would you have excused Bill Clinton’s misconduct in the White House because he was from Arkansas? (And we won’t take this occasion to explore the hypocrisy of excusing the behavior of an individual based on where he is from when that same individual is bent on incarcerating or banning from entry into our country people who come from far more treacherous and deadly places.)

Sen. Hatch, our common faith teaches us that truth matters, that decency, honor, integrity and virtue matter. One of the basic tenets of our religion states that “we believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men.” As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we try in all we do to emulate our Savior. We all fall short, of course, but our heart’s purest desire is to follow Him, to act as He acted, to live by His teachings.

Christ, our gentle master, taught us to love one another, to care for the poor and despised among us, to tell the truth, to be meek, to hunger and thirst after righteousness, to be pure in heart, to be peacemakers, to reach out beyond socio-political divisions to embrace all our sisters and brothers, and to come unto Him. These are our most deeply-held beliefs and aspirations, and we know that they are yours, too. Please do not defend behavior that flouts these values. You can finish your long career as a servant of the people by standing strong for truth, honor, and decency. We ask you to do so.

Sincerely,

Mormon Women for Ethical Government

Sharlee Mullins Glenn, Diana Bate Hardy, Melissa Dalton-Bradford, Megan Seawright and Lisa Rampton Halverson are part of the leadership team of the nonpartisan, grassroots organization, Mormon Women for Ethical Government. Mormon Women for Ethical Government is not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We do, however, honor and sustain the Church’s leaders and doctrines.

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