Commentary: Lee should not tolerate president’s intolerable acts

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, leaves a Republican lunch meeting and heads to the chamber where he voted to reject President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency at the southwest border, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, March 14, 2019. Twelve Republicans joined Democrats in defying Trump. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Open Letter to Senator Mike Lee

Dear Senator Lee,

For the past two years, our nation has waited to hear the results of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in our elections, obstruction of justice and possible conspiracy against the American people. That report has finally been released, and the results —even in their redacted form — are damning.

As Brookings Fellow Susan Hennessey and Lawfare’s managing editor Quinta Jurecic explain, the Mueller Report describes, “a candidate and a campaign aware of the existence of a plot by a hostile foreign government to criminally interfere in the U.S. election for the purpose of supporting that candidate’s side,” and outlines numerous attempts by the president to hinder a federal investigation with “ample evidence that at least a portion of that conduct met all the statutory elements of criminal obstruction of justice” (see also “10 Times Trump Might Have Obstructed Justice” in the Washington Examiner).

The report is available for all to read. We assume that you, as our senator, and one who has taken an oath to defend the Constitution and “well and faithfully” execute the duties of your office, have read it. Yet, on CBS’s “Face the Nation” this past Sunday, you seemed not to be familiar with its full contents when you said: “There’s nothing in this report that changes my view of this president. I don’t think most Americans, I don’t think most senators, most members of Congress ... will have their view of the president of the United States changed by this report. There’s just nothing in there that should do that.”

As the leaders of the Utah chapter of Mormon Women for Ethical Government, an organization of women of faith committed to building a more peaceful, just and ethical world, we are impelled to ask you to clarify your statement and your position on the matter of this report.

When you state that nothing in this report changes your view of this president, do you mean that you already fully understood that President Trump was doing whatever he could to obstruct justice and was "saved" only because his staff refused to follow his orders? Do you mean that you support the president despite this unethical and self-serving behavior?

Do you mean that you already fully understood the character of a president who has persistently lied to the American people? Do you mean you already fully understood his utter disregard for the rule of law, and just don’t care?

Do you mean that you not only understood the criminal interference of Russia in our American elections (as you acknowledged on “Face the Nation”), but were also fully aware that the president’s campaign may have welcomed the assistance of a hostile foreign government for the purpose of supporting that candidate’s side?

And, if you mean the above, do you mean that you have abrogated your responsibility to the nation and its Constitution and laws? That would be intolerable. But, as Hennessey and Jurecic point out, “When you convince yourself that the best way to safeguard the republic is for your side to win, it gets tempting to tolerate all kinds of intolerable things.”

We ask you not to tolerate intolerable things. We ask you to approach the facts and the findings of the Mueller report with a firm commitment to truth, not with predetermined ideas and partisan close-mindedness.

You have always presented yourself as a staunch defender of the Constitution and so we ask that you, in fact, do all that you can to safeguard the supreme law of the land and our founding principles, even when it may not be politically expedient.

We remind you that, as legal advisor to Republicans for the Rule of Law, Chris Truax, has written, “Even things that fall short of criminality can trigger a congressional investigation. ... Whether Trump crossed a line is a call for Congress to make, not Mueller or Barr.”

And thus we ask you to support Congressional oversight with the gravity your office requires, and in doing so help to restore public confidence in our most important democratic systems and institutions.

Lisa Halverson | Mormon Women for Ethical Government

Megan Seawright | Mormon Women for Ethical Government

Catherine Eslinger | Mormon Women for Ethical Government

Lisa Rampton Halverson, Megan Blood Seawright and Catherine Eslinger are co-leads of the Utah chapter of Mormon Women for Ethical Government.