Utah lawmaker opens impeachment probe of Attorney General Sean Reyes

This 2014 file photo shows Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes at the Utah Republican Nomination Convention, Sandy, Utah, April 26, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Democratic lawmaker in Utah said Tuesday he is launching an impeachment probe against Attorney General Sean Reyes following his support of President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the election.

In this 2019 file photo, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes talks about the case against Paul D. Petersen during a news conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, Oct. 9, 2019. Petersen is charged with human smuggling, sale of a child and communications fraud. | Photo by Jeremy Harmon/The Salt Lake Tribune via The Associated Press, St. George News

State Rep. Andrew Stoddard said he is pursuing impeachment because of his ties to a GOP organization that issued robocalls urging people to go to the U.S. Capitol the day it was stormed. Reyes has denied any involvement in the robocalls and condemned the violence in Washington.

Stoddard’s primary goal is to investigate Reyes for his actions, but said he has few options besides sponsoring an impeachment resolution. The measure would need a two-thirds majority in the House to pass, which is highly unlikely in the state’s politically conservative legislature.

“This is not a move I am taking lightly,” Stoddard wrote in a statement. “And in spite of assumptions that this is a partisan or political move, it is not.”

Alabama’s attorney general has called for an investigation into who may have authorized the fundraising arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association to promote the pro-Trump rally. The controversy prompted the association’s executive director to resign.

Association chairman Chris Carr, who is also Georgia’s attorney general, has said he didn’t have any knowledge of the decision to be involved and is trying to find out what happened.

Stoddard also referenced Reyes’ prior support of Trump’s legal challenges to election procedures. Reyes spent a weekend in November shortly after his own reelection looking for election problems in Nevada.

Reyes was among several Republican attorneys general who supported a lawsuit filed by the Texas attorney general to overturn the presidential election results in four battleground states in hopes of making Trump the winner. The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office issued a statement Tuesday afternoon with a statement from Reyes.

“Impeachment is a drastic measure, especially if, as Representative Stoddard says, he is simply looking for answers to his questions. If I had questions regarding his bill, I wouldn’t send a subpoena, I’d make an appointment with him,” he said in the statement.

To the question of why the state of Utah and its attorney general should care about constitutional election issues, Reyes said:

As I stated at the time Utah joined the Texas lawsuit, we need to have the U.S. Supreme Court answer a critical constitutional question regarding separation of powers. Namely, when are executive and judicial branches allowed to change or disregard state law without approval of the legislative branch or referendum process. I know many state legislators along with a majority of Utahns wanted this question answered and still do. I understand the Supreme Court is hesitant to address even important constitutional issues like this amid political controversy. Nevertheless, it is a question that remains and needs to be answered before the next election cycle.

To the issue of whether he condones violence, Reyes said it has been well documented by the media and national organizations that he was not involved in planning or encouraging any violence at the nation’s Capitol Building.

“I immediately and emphatically denounced the lawlessness and loss of life on January 6 in the same manner I condemned the equally tragic riots, looting, burning, violence and loss of life all summer long in cities across our nation,” he said.

Written by ASSOCIATED PRESS. St. George News contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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