Legislative Republicans seeking a quick, and quiet, exit from Romney impeachment controversy

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Perhaps worried that a resolution praising GOP President Donald Trump could draw Democratic anti-Trump comments — picked up by the media — in a committee or floor debate, it looks like Republican leaders will settle on a “citation” in the president’s honor, which isn’t open to such pesky opposition.

House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, told reporters Monday morning that he is “open” to taking the citation route — originally suggested by Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton.

Wilson would be the sponsor of such a pro-Trump resolution — which is just a statement of feelings by the Legislature — but which goes through the normal bill-approval process.

The two talked over the weekend, said Wilson, and how to let the president know that the Utah Legislature (at least the Republicans) feel about him was discussed.

Wilson and GOP lawmakers want to thank Trump for taking actions like reducing the size of the Obama-created Bear Ears National Monument and the Clinton-created Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument, among other things.

This all comes up, of course, after U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, voted to convict Trump on one of two articles of impeachment last Thursday.

Romney then took a “red-eye” flight to Utah and showed up Friday morning on Capitol Hill to talk to House and Senate GOP leaders separately to explain his vote.

In a related matter, it still remains unclear if there is support in the Senate (or maybe even the House) for a resolution that would have praised Trump, but also “censured” Romney for that vote.

And a bill, which had been in the works even before the Trump impeachment blew up last October, to provide for a recall of a Utah U.S. senator.

As first reported by UtahPolicy.com, that bill, HB217, by Rep. Tim Quinn, R-Heber, has an extensive constitutional note saying it is likely illegal. And a member of Senate leadership declared it just so.

“We want to recognize” that Trump has been “very good” to Utah in a number of ways, said Wilson, who said it has not gone unnoticed by him that taking the citation route would avoid committee hearings in the House and Senate, and floor debate in both bodies, where minority Democrats — who have no love for Trump — would be able to speak.

And if the whole idea is for Republicans in the Legislature to praise the president, and thank him, what good would it do to allow Democrat the chance to bash him — and then have the media pick it up.

Normally, it’s likely Trump pays little or no attention to what is happening in Utah, but if the local media played up Democrats slamming Trump — on top of Romney’s vote — then the praise for the president could be drowned out in all the anti-Trump noise.

Under the citation process — instigated years ago as a way around all the formal resolutions that were taking up too much of legislators’ time — any member can just write up a notice of praise/thanks/memorial, have it read on the floor, and then it is presented to the person/family of the deceased without any public hearings or votes.

In any case, GOP House leaders could hold Rep. Phil Lyman’s resolution censuring Romney and Quinn’s bill in House Rules, and they would never be debated — not giving the Democrats the opportunity (assuming they would take it) to criticize Trump in a formal legislative hearing.

Most likely GOP leaders want to get all the Trump/Romney stuff behind them and concentrate on the difficult job of balancing the new state budget, possible tax cuts, and deal with other matters more critical to governing the state.