The impeachment bug is spreading.
On the eve of an expected U.S. House of Representatives vote to impeach President Donald Trump, and a mere 36 hours after Rep. Ben McAdams said he would vote for the move, hundreds gathered in downtown Salt Lake City to join the party.
Chants of “Thank you, Ben” and “Where’s Mitt?” rang out as car after car honked its horn in support of the crowd outside the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building on the corner of 100 South and State Street. Signs reading “No one is above the law” and “Impeach and remove,” to name a few, dotted the large crowd.
The hour-long rally, put on by the local grassroots group Salt Lake Indivisible, also doubled as a civics lesson of sorts. Speakers reminded the crowd of popular lines like Benjamin Franklin’s, “What do we have, a republic or a monarchy? A republic, if you can keep it,” and stressed the “rule of law” and the system of checks and balances as reasons now is the time to impeach.
“Tonight, we call on Congressman [Rob] Bishop, Congressman [Chris] Stewart and Congressman [John] Curtis, from whom frankly, I expected a little better,” Fred Voros, a retired Utah Court of Appeals judge, told the crowd, “to vote tomorrow for the rule of law, for our republic, to vote, in short, to impeach.”
McAdams is the only member of Utah’s delegation in the House who has come out in support of impeachment as of Tuesday. Chances are, and knowing the others’ track records, they won’t be joining his rallying cry anytime soon.
Karen Shepherd, a former Utah congresswoman, also spoke to the crowd of eager impeachers. Shepherd, referencing her experience in Congress, said McAdams made the right choice. “It was his job to do it and he doesn’t care if he loses,” Shepherd said. “Because that’s the job of democracy. You don’t care if you lose. You have to be prepared to do that.”
The downtown rally was part of hundreds across the U.S. in support of impeaching Trump for the now widely known phone call and requested favor in exchange for military aide with the Ukrainian president. A vote is expected on the House floor Wednesday, but could come as late as Thursday.
Despite the cold temps, attendees stayed for the entire throng of speeches, even reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing the national anthem.
Jason Stevenson, a communications manager with the ACLU of Utah, also addressed the crowd, pointing out that the organization is a nonpartisan group. For example, even though it’s supporting impeachment now, it has filed lawsuits against other presidents such as Barack Obama’s administration.
“Throughout our long history, the ACLU has supported the impeachment of our president only twice,” Stevenson said. “The first time was in 1973, when we, and many others, determined that President Richard Nixon had violated the civil liberties of all Americans and the rule of law. The second time was just last week, when the majority of the ACLU’s national board of directors decided that President Trump has committed impeachable offenses and violated his oath to preserve and protect and defend the Constitution.”
Stevenson later told City Weekly that impeachment can be an avenue to shed more light on abuses of power. An election that gets Trump out of office, might not be enough.
“If we just relied on elections, unfortunately, we’ve seen how they can be subverted and they can be damaged,” Stevenson said. “The impeachment process is a way we can get new information on the table and show the American public what’s going on.”
Whether Trump even makes it to next year’s election will depend on Congress’ impeachment. But those at Tuesday’s rally wanted to make one thing loud and clear: “No one is above the law!”