Last week, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes joined 17 other state attorneys general in a bogus lawsuit brought by Texas asking the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The aim? Give (current) President Donald Trump an illegitimate Electoral College victory.
Not surprisingly, the high court rejected the case unanimously 9-0. The state’s top Republicans, Gov. Gary Herbert and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox would have nothing to do with the sham, noting that Reyes hadn’t consulted them, therefore “we don’t know what his motivation is.”
The motivation is clear: Like many of his Republican counterparts, it’s about ambition for higher office. Reyes wants to make sure a certain disgraced, soon-to-be one-term president knows there’s a proud member of his personality cult in the Beehive State. Maybe Reyes has his eyes on another job — perhaps when Sen. Mitt Romney is up in 2024 — and needs to burnish his MAGA credentials.
Motivations aside, Reyes, like Sen. Mike Lee before him, has shown that, for too many Utah Republicans, the concept of democracy is solely tied to their fealty to Trump. Even before his loss in November, Trump and his staunchest allies intentionally tried to de-legitimatize voting by mail, claiming — falsely, of course — that it was rife with fraud. His attacks mail-in ballots worked, but not as he expected; Republicans stayed away from early voting in droves, and contributed to Trump’s loss.
They said that if Trump lost, it would only be possible if the election was stolen from him. After his loss last month, Republicans across the country started their version of the “stab in the back” myth — that dark forces within the deep state and in cities across the country had conspired to keep him from a second term. It was hard to miss the toxic combination of conspiracy and racism that shaped these attacks.
By his actions this week, Reyes has crossed America’s political Rubicon. He has chosen to side with the forces of anger, resentment and authoritarianism. This is no small decision, but it was one taken by a small man — bereft of either the honor or the dignity his office deserves. When the time came to put duty and service to our state and his country, Reyes chose a would-be tin hat dictator.
Utah’s oath of office reads, “I do solemnly swear that I will support, obey, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the constitution of Utah, and that I will discharge the duties of my office with fidelity.”
Sean Reyes violated each of the 34 words of the promise he’s made to Utahns since his appointment in 2013. Seven years later, are we better off for having him in office? Would we have reelected him this year if we’d known he’d so quickly abandon the tenets of his office?
Democracies are built on faith. Only the belief by the people that their leaders will abide by the rules we’ve all agreed to and that they will serve in the name of those they represent, keeps the wheels turning. What Reyes and his 16 seditious counterparts have done is no less than break with that conviction. They have revealed themselves to be who and what they are: faithless to the American people and to the system for which so many have fought to preserve.
When they take these actions, they’re telling us that for them, there is no limit on what they’ll do to preserve their own power.
We should believe them.
Despite serving as the state’s chief law enforcement officer, Reyes and his partners in crime chose to violate their oaths to the Constitution and engage in the most blatant example of sedition we’ve seen in living memory. Utahns deserve more, much more. So do all Americans.
Reed Galen is a co-founder of The Lincoln Project and a resident of Park City.
Steve Schmidt is a co-founder of The Lincoln Project and an MSNBC contributor. He lives in Park City.