President Donald Trump announced on Friday he will refuse to cooperate with a formal impeachment inquiry while Utah’s only Democrat in Congress stated for the first time that he supports the investigation.
U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams, representing Utah’s 4th Congressional District was previously hesitant to endorse the inquiry driven by a whistleblower’s complaint that Trump requested the Ukraine president to find dirt on his Democratic political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
In earlier statements, McAdams said he wanted to look at all the facts before deciding whether or not to support impeachment efforts, the Associated Press reported.
McAdams’ comments on Friday suggested that an inquiry may be the only way to bring every fact to light.
“The President’s refusal to further cooperate with Congressional oversight without an impeachment inquiry is regrettable,” McAdams said in a statement issued on Friday. “Throughout this process, I have been and remain concerned about the perception that Congress has prejudged the outcome of the process — but an inquiry is necessary to get all the facts on the table.”
His statement comes a day after House investigators released a collection of text messages showing top U.S. diplomats encouraged Ukraine’s newly-elected president to conduct an investigation into Biden’s family in exchange for a high-profile visit from Trump, the Associated Press reported.
Democrats also sent a request on Friday for documents from Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Ukraine, trying to determine whether Trump tried to use military assistance to investigate Biden.
McAdams was one of 10 House Democrats who had not endorsed the inquiry.
“I pledge to remain objective and will reserve final judgment until the process concludes and I call on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do the same. We cannot allow this issue to paralyze Washington, and I remain committed to advancing solutions to the problems Utahns sent me to address,” he stated on Friday.
Utah’s other three House representatives Rob Bishop, John Curtis and Chris Stewart, all Republicans, stated they are opposed to the impeachment inquiry.
Stress, trauma and fatigue can be commonplace in the lives of deputies and jail inmates, but one Utah County Sheriff’s Office lieutenant is helping teach ways to deal with the hardships of life and feel at peace.
Lt. Jeffery Jones is using mindfulness techniques in his work with coworkers, inmates, suspects and his personal life.
Jones describes mindfulness as being totally present in everything we do. He first got into learning about mindfulness and meditation because of trauma that he had experienced in his job as a deputy, a job that he has worked at for 22 years.
About 10 years ago, he started focusing on gratitude and reading books about mindfulness.
“The more I got into it, the more I realized this is something I could do,” he said.
Meditation, which he describes as finding a stillness and a peace and paying attention to breathing, is tied to mindfulness. It is something he now does daily for at least 20 minutes.
“Everyone should do it every day at least once or twice,” he said. “Even doing it for two minutes, you’re still going to be ahead.”
As he experienced the benefits in his own life, he began sharing what he had learned with coworkers.
“Sometimes individuals come to me and ask for help,” Jones said.
During October, Jones will be heading up a new mindfulness group for deputies, teaching them de-escalation tactics. Law enforcement officers use de-escalation techniques daily. Breathing, remaining calm, listening, asking questions, paraphrasing, nonverbal communication and demonstrating empathy can make a difference between a violent or calm ending to a situation with a suspect. Mindfulness goes hand-in-hand with de-escalation tactics and deputies will have the opportunity to be trained in meditation as part of the group.
Chief Deputy Matt Higley is one who has found help from the techniques that Jones teaches.
“He came to me once. He knew I was struggling,” Higley said.
Jones taught Higley some exercises and breathing techniques and gave him books to read.
“That stuff really works,” Higley said.
At first, Higley thought some of the exercises were strange, like when Jones instructed him to buy a package of M&M’s candies and told him to choose five of them. Then, he put one in his mouth at a time and let it sit there, feeling the way it changed as it melted.
“He told me to focus on that,” Higley said. “I thought, ‘Man, you’ve lost your mind.’ But, it taught me to focus on something good and not always on the bad.”
As part of the hostage negotiation team, Jones uses the strategies he teaches when the team is called out.
“We respond with the SWAT team in case we are needed,” he said. They have been needed, in cases of barricaded individuals and in some cases, when hostages are involved.
Jones has also taught techniques to the crisis intervention team, of which he has been a member for about eight years. The team gets called out to situations involving those dealing with mental illness.
“A portion of this is self-awareness,” he said. “We have experienced some of the same traumas as those with mental illnesses.
“When we go into a room where everybody is having a crisis, we don’t want to bring our own crises with us. When we yell, we are actually giving them more strength because it causes them to put on an armor. We teach to respond, rather than react. When you practice mindfulness, you can take away some of the emotion.”
Higley, who oversees the Utah County Jail, said Jones helps inmates in more than one way when he teaches them about meditating.
“He wants to share what he does with other people and with those who have made mistakes and are trying to get help,” Higley said.
In addition to helping the inmates be able to focus less on the negative parts of their lives, the work that Jones does with them allows them to see a different side of those who wear the badge. Law enforcement officers have struggles in their lives, just like the inmates do.
“This humanizes law enforcement,” Higley said.
“I have taught hundreds of male and female inmates meditation,” Jones said. “It’s the first time many of them have taken time to just be still. They live a high stress life just like we do, always looking behind them for police.”
Jones said that through meditation, many of the inmates feel like they are human or are treated like humans for the first time.
“When I get a roomful of SWAT cops meditating, there’s a peace that you can’t find anywhere else,” Jones said. “The same happens with the inmates.”
In honor of those serving as police officers, firefighters, first responders and military members, Harward Farms is hosting a benefit event Tuesday.
The Cuffs and Hoses event is set for Jaker’s Jack-O-Lanterns near 950 W. 400 South in Springville, according to a press release.
All active duty or veteran military, public safety employees and first responders and their families will receive free admission from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. with proof of service or occupation.
Community members are also invited to the event for $4 per person. All proceedings from the day’s pumpkin sales will be donated to Honoring Heroes Foundation, a nonprofit founded by the Utah Highway Patrol.
Special activities from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. include a chance to explore fire engines and police cruisers from local fire and police agencies.
The annual event will also feature a corn maze, hayride, petting zoo, corn pit, slides and a giant pumpkin patch.
Jaker’s Jack-O-Lanterns is open through Oct. 31 from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. except on Halloween when the park closes at 3 p.m.
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court agreed Friday to plunge into the abortion debate in the midst of the 2020 presidential campaign, taking on a Louisiana case that could reveal how willing the more conservative court is to chip away at abortion rights.
The justices will examine a Louisiana law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The law is virtually identical to one in Texas that the Supreme Court struck down in 2016, when Justice Anthony Kennedy was on the bench and before the addition of President Donald Trump’s two high court picks, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, who have shifted the court to the right.
The court’s new term begins Monday, but arguments in the Louisiana case won’t take place until the winter. A decision is likely to come by the end of June, four months before the presidential election.
The Supreme Court temporarily blocked the Louisiana law from taking effect in February, when Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberal justices to put it on hold. Kavanaugh and Gorsuch were among the four conservatives who would have allowed the law to take effect.
Those preliminary votes do not bind the justices when they undertake a thorough review of an issue, but they often signal how a case will come out.
Roberts’ vote to block the Louisiana law was a rare vote against an abortion restriction in his more than 13 years as chief justice. That may reflect his new role since Kennedy’s retirement as the court’s swing justice, his concern about the court being perceived as a partisan institution and respect for a prior decision of the court, even one he disagreed with.
In the Texas case, he voted in dissent to uphold the admitting privileges requirement.
The Louisiana case and a separate appeal over an Indiana ultrasound requirement for women seeking an abortion, on which the court took no action Friday, were the most significant of hundreds of pending appeals the justices considered when they met in private on Tuesday.
Both cases involve the standard first laid out by the court in 1992 that while states can regulate abortion, they can’t do things that place an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to an abortion. The regulations are distinct from other state laws making their way through court challenges that would ban abortions early in a pregnancy.
Louisiana abortion providers and a district judge who initially heard the case said one or maybe two of the state’s three abortion clinics would have to close under the new law. There would be at most two doctors who could meet its requirements, they said.
But the appeals court in New Orleans rejected those claims, doubting that any clinics would have to close and saying the doctors had not tried hard enough to establish relationships with local hospitals.
In January, the full appeals court voted 9-6 not to get involved in the case, setting up the Supreme Court appeal.
The Hope Medical Group clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana, and two doctors whose identities are not revealed said in their appeal that the justices should strike down the law without even holding arguments because the decision so clearly conflicts with the Texas ruling from 2016.
The court did not follow that path Friday.
There also was no action on a third abortion-related appeal that involves a challenge to a Chicago ordinance that stops protesters from getting within 8 feet (2.4 meters) of people entering abortion clinics and other health care facilities without their consent.
Anti-abortion activists had challenged the Chicago law as a violation of their free speech rights. The federal appeals court in Chicago upheld the law, though grudgingly.
The Supreme Court upheld a similar Colorado law in 2000, but in 2014 struck down a Massachusetts provision that set a fixed 35-foot (10.7-meter) buffer zone outside abortion clinics.
Also Friday, the court agreed to hear an appeal by energy companies and the Trump administration asking the court to overturn an appeals court ruling and reinstate a permit to allow construction of a natural gas pipeline through two national forests, including parts of the Appalachian Trail.
The 605-mile (970-kilometer) pipeline would begin in West Virginia and travel through parts of Virginia and North Carolina. The proposed route, which the administration had approved, would include the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests, as well as a right-of-way across the Appalachian Trail.
Members from nine Provo stakes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will combine their voices into a 350-person choir to sing in the Saturday session of the 189th Semiannual General Conference of the church.
They will be under the direction of Jim Kasen, a Brigham Young University professor, and organist Joseph Peeples, according to choir member Sabina Michelle Safsten, a member of the Provo, Utah Stake. Tabernacle organist Andrew Unsworth is also helping with the choir.
Stakes are larger congregations, comparable to Catholic diocese, comprised of about a dozen wards, or smaller congregations, of the church.
The choir started rehearsing Aug. 18 and will sing three songs and the intermediate hymn, according to Safsten.
“It has been such a blessing,” Safsten said. “I’m the only woman singing tenor. It’s me and a bunch of guys.”
Safsten cannot say what songs the choir will offer, but said those who listen will hear what each member of the choir is carrying in their heart.
“It’s all about coming to Christ,” Safsten said. “Music is focused on the gift of Christ, the gift of mercy and the atonement.”
This conference opportunity is particularly precious and healing for Safsten.
“My mom passed away four years ago on conference,” Safsten said. “To be able to participate in a unique and focused way has been spectacular.”
Safsten added that she has been able to take her grief and some pain and put it into something that can help others throughout the world. She has felt her mother’s presence.
“There is so much power and meaning in the music,” Safsten said. “I have been able to sing with people I went to college with.”
Safsten said all aspects of singing in the choir has been a form of a blessing and renewal in her life.
“It is a full circle for me,” Safsten said. “Without knowing the specifics of our stories, everyone in the choir has a story.”
The story of the first tenor from the Provo Utah Stake, who didn't want to be identified by name, is a journey of faith and hope and courage. He hoped one of the reasons he was selected for the choir was because he has a good voice.
The tenor hoped having a personal invitation to sing has gone from just a great opportunity, to an epiphany of God’s love for him.
He has been a member of the church all of his life and said he loves God and knows the Savior loves him.
“I didn’t think (the choir) would be too special. What I didn’t realize is how spiritual it’s been to be in the choir,” he said. “There was prayer and fasting for a month and a half by the bishopric. The (Quorum of the Seventy) prayed and the Provo stakes were chosen.”
Each week, the director gives choir members a spiritual assignment as they prepare to sing. The first one was difficult for the Provo Utah Stake tenor.
“He said, ‘Some of you are going through things,’” he said. “What we’re doing is so powerful and the adversary is standing in your way. The Lord individually picked you. He wanted us to think about the lyrics we were singing that the words are the power.”
The Provo Utah Stake tenor is a return missionary from South Dakota and left the church after he felt a lot of his questions went unanswered.
“I didn’t feel there was a place for me. I left the church, broke my temple covenants. I’d come to church late so it wasn’t seen that I didn’t take the sacrament. I was living a double life,” he said. “I found myself living a life without the spirit. It is a very scary experience – It’s awful.”
For a time, he was living in Las Vegas and working was a drag queen.
“It was hard to let go of my passion for drag. It allowed me to be myself,” he said. “But there was no balm of Gilead, no answers. I knew God loves me and I’ve never been without that.”
Returning to church was very difficult for him.
“My bishop wouldn’t talk to me but two times a year. I came back on my own,” he said.
He moved from Salt Lake City to Provo and his new bishop said he wanted to help him be worthy to enter the church’s temples. He is now eligible to enter the temples and is serving in his ward’s elder’s quorum presidency.
He said if he hadn’t had faith, he wouldn’t have had time to practice in the choir.
He has hope from all the rehearsing and personalization of the spiritual meaning of the words in the hymns.
“When I perform ... I want a moment I can look back on and say (God) remembers me,” he said.