Keith Watts: Time for Utah’s senators to make us proud

(Jose Luis Magana | AP) Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, talks to reporters on his way to the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial quickly burst into a partisan fight Tuesday as proceedings began unfolding at the Capitol. Democrats objected strongly to rules proposed by the Republican leader for compressed arguments and a speedy trial.

The future of our democracy is in the hands of Utah Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney. Both have both made me proud to say that I am a Utahn.

When taking office in 2018, Romney had the courage to speak the truth about President Trump’s lack of moral character. I wish that he were our president now.

Given Trump’s reckless assassination of Iran’s General Soleimani without any real justification, Lee had the courage to clearly voice his concerns about the whether Trump can be trusted with the extraordinary power to put us into yet another Middle East war with Iran. I am hoping that both his honesty and bravery will serve as a moral compass that helps guide the U.S. Senate through Trump’s impeachment trial.

Trump has increasingly behaved as if he was a dictator, typically ignoring the will of the majority of the American people and riling up his political base using lies and propaganda. His major accomplishments have been to make the rich richer, undermine our democratic processes, and strengthen our advisories (Russia’s Putin and Turkey’s Erdogan) while weakening our allies (NATO, the Kurds who beat ISIS, Ukraine, etc.).

At this pivotal moment, the American people need to know that Trump can’t just sweep his misdeeds under the rug, using the solid Republican support he has enjoyed from the Senate. Clearly, Trump has done everything in his power to hide what he did in pressuring Ukraine to do his political bidding by withholding congressionally mandated funding that would have supported Ukraine’s effort to stop Russian expansionism.

Thank God that a dozen patriotic State Department officials had the moral fiber to testify on what happened under their watch in Ukraine, ignoring Trump’s demands that they not speak the truth.

The American people need to hear the testimony of these and other witnesses, hopefully John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney, Lev Parnas, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Pompeo, William Barr, Rick Perry, Devin Nunes and others identified in the course of the trial. Ideally, Trump would testify.

Our senators’ first job will be to break rank and vote to allow witnesses to be cross examined in the Senate impeachment trial. With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel admittedly coordinating with the White House council, it is important that Lee and Romney do all they can to redirect the process so the American people can see an honest, thorough and transparent impeachment trial, where all the facts have been laid out and the Senate is capable of making a fair and impartial decision on whether or not to impeach President Trump.

Now is the time to ignore the partisan politics that have gridlocked the American government for nearly a decade. Unfortunately, Trump’s solid base, entranced by “culture war” issues above all else, decides the fate of Republican politicians in their primary elections. Trump shockingly bragged that he could murder someone in downtown New York City and his base would still support him. Sadly, this has driven many moderate Republican senators and representatives out of office and put’s the fear of God in those who remain.

I think that Utahns place honesty and integrity above toeing the party line and will support decisions for a fair and impartial impeachment trial.

Utahns trust Lee and Romney to do the right and honorable thing. To do less puts our Constitution and democracy at risk. This is perhaps the most important moment in the history of the United States of America and the Senate is also standing on trial here.

They should make us proud to be Americans, with their difficult but unbiased decisions.

Keith Watts

Keith Watts was raised in Utah and now lives in Boulder, Utah.