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Lisa Riley Roche, KSL

Trump's advance team checks out state Capitol

By Lisa Riley Roche, KSL  |  Posted Dec 1st, 2017 @ 6:44pm

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SALT LAKE CITY — Amid the usual tourists taking pictures in the Capitol rotunda Friday morning, a group of Secret Service agents and other members of President Donald Trump's advance team looked over locations for his upcoming visit.

The White House has confirmed the president will come to Utah on Monday morning. He is expected to announce new boundaries for the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments at the state Capitol around noon.

Trump is heading to the state at a time when a majority of Utahns say they don't like the job he's doing, according to a new poll that showed only 45 percent approve of his performance in the White House.

Within that group, only 19 percent said they strongly approve of the president's job performance. But among the 53 percent unhappy with Trump, 39 percent expressed strong disapproval.

The poll was conducted for by Dan Jones & Associates of 600 registered Utah voters Nov. 16-21 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

Utahns are also deeply divided on the issue of reducing Bears Ears, set aside by former President Barack Obama in the final days of his presidency, and Grand Staircase, designated by former President Bill Clinton in 1996.

A protest against what has been reported as Trump's plan to slash the total size of both by about two-thirds and carve them into five separate national monuments is set for 1 p.m. Saturday in the Capitol rotunda.

Supporters of shrinking the national monuments, including many southeastern Utah officials, will be gathering at 11 a.m. Saturday in Monticello at the San Juan County Administration Building.

The advance team for the president's visit met Friday at the Capitol with Mike Deaver, who put together Trump's March 2016 campaign rally in Salt Lake City, and Allyson Gamble, executive director of the Capitol Preservation Board that oversees the Capitol complex.


"The Capitol Preservation Board is busy with building preparation for this historic event," Gamble said. A letter to Capitol Hill residents from the board went out Friday warning of road closures, security measures and more on Monday.

A number of state employees also joined the advance team as they consulted maps and scoped out where guest seating, press risers and other parts of Monday's program would go if the president spoke in front of one of the massive staircases.

The Secret Service agents checked out the rotunda's massive Christmas tree and spent some time eyeing the balconies along the upper floors that overlook the area, while others walked through the Gold Room.

At one point, they headed into Gov. Gary Herbert's office. Later, a few members of the group checked out the Presentation Room, where tours usually assemble and news conferences are held.

The advance team also made previous visits to the Capitol this week, sources said.

Details of the president's visit remained vague. The entire day is blocked out on the calendar for the Capitol, but the only events previously scheduled were two choirs that likely would be canceled.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who announced the president's visit, has said Trump will also meet with leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and tour the church's Welfare Square before leaving Monday.

The senator's spokesman, Matt Whitlock, said religious liberties may be on the agenda when the president meets with LDS leaders.

"In addition to touring Welfare Square, Hatch also hopes to discuss, among other things, religious liberty and the church's impressive welfare program with the president and church leaders," Whitlock said.

Hatch will travel with the president on Air Force One, which is expected to land Monday morning at the Air National Guard Base near Salt Lake City International Airport.


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