Randy Hopkins: Stewart is wrong to blame impeachment on a ‘deep state’

(Andrew Harnik | AP file photo) Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, questions Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire as he testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019.

Rep. Chris Stewart appeared on Fox News’ Laura Ingraham Show last week and suggested that diplomats who appear before congressional committees conducting impeachment depositions and hearings, are part of a “deep state,” and that they are somehow “betraying the people,” and “betraying the trust of the Constitution.”

It has become the hallmark of the most ardent of the president’s defenders to turn truth on its head, and to make those who may do damage to the president’s interests, through simply telling the truth, targets of ridicule. They attack the witnesses and the process because there is no defense for the president’s actions. This is the game Stewart in now playing.

Take, for example, Ambassador Bill Taylor, a 50-year public servant, a West Point graduate, with a stellar military record, including service in Vietnam, and spotless service as a diplomat around the world. Taylor was asked by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to come out of retirement to take the sensitive post in Ukraine. He is anything other than a deep state leftist.

Taylor testified that assistance to Ukraine was held back by President Trump and conditioned on Ukraine publicly announcing an investigation of the Bidens. Taylor rightly texted at the time, while the shakedown was going down, that it was “crazy to withhold security assistance for a political campaign.”

Let’s be clear, the testimony of Taylor and the others, is not part of a “deep state” conspiracy. These are people who have dedicated their lives to public service. For Stewart to demean them in an effort to protect the president, is disingenuous and disappointing. The conspiracy is with the president and those around him.

This is simple stuff – if you are not trying to protect a banana republic style despot. The president used the power of his office to coerce a foreign power to help him gain an advantage over a political opponent. That is an assault on our electoral process and constitutes an abuse of power. Secondly, the president has sought to thwart the investigation by stonewalling, hiding evidence, intimidating witnesses, lying and otherwise hindering the investigation. That’s called obstruction of justice.

The founders were sensitive to the problem of an authoritarian chief executive. They brilliantly built a system of checks and balances, and ultimately a process whereby an unfit president can be removed. The impeachment process that the House is now going through is the constitutionally mandated process. Those who are testifying, answering subpoenas and telling the truth are honoring their oaths to uphold the Constitution. Those engaged in obfuscation and cover-up are doing the opposite.

The people of Utah’s 2nd Congressional District deserve a representative who realizes that Congress is a separate but co-equal branch with the executive, with specific oversight responsibilities, including impeachment. Members have the responsibility to follow the truth, not defend the president. Taylor’s testimony was a smoking gun, with the president’s prints all over the weapon.

Now comes the moral test for every Republican member of Congress. Be on the right side of the truth and of history, or bow to the soul-withering spell cast by Donald Trump.

If Stewart’s judgment has become so clouded by loyalty to the president, that he can’t simply do the right and honorable thing, in this moment of constitutional crisis, it is indeed time for him to come home for good.

Randy Hopkins

Randy Hopkins, Farmington, is a Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress 2nd District, a former executive for the state of Utah with 35-plus years experience assisting disadvantaged populations.