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Trump's tweets wearing on Utahns, new poll finds

By Lisa Riley Roche  |  Posted Jan 3rd, 2017 @ 7:00pm



SALT LAKE CITY — Donald Trump's tweeting appears to be wearing on Utahns, who want him to either post less to Twitter or stop altogether once he's sworn in as president.

That's according to a poll, released the same day critical tweets from Trump apparently prompted U.S. House Republicans to reverse a plan to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics.

Nearly three-quarters of Utahns are tired of the president-elect's tweets, the poll found, with 36 percent asking for fewer, and 35 percent calling for none at all. Only 11 percent said they'd like to see more tweets, while 18 percent weren't sure what Trump should do.

The poll, conducted for the online political news source Dec. 8-12, 2016, of 614 registered Utah voters by Dan Jones & Associates, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.95 percent.

Trump's tweeting proved powerful Tuesday, but that may not be enough to change Utahns' minds about his use of Twitter to communicate, said Jason Perry, head of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics.

"I think people are still reserving judgment," Perry said. "It does answer the question of whether President-elect Trump is able to influence the Republican Party. It did and it did it very quickly."

In response to a closed-door vote among the U.S. House GOP conference to make rules changes that would have put the independent ethics office under the control of lawmakers, Trump tweeted that they should be focused elsewhere.

"With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog … their No. 1 act and priority," he said in a pair of tweets, urging them to focus on "things of far greater importance."

Trump cited tax reform and health care as among those priorities and signed off with the hashtag "DTS," an apparent reference to "Drain the Swamp," his campaign pledge to take on business as usual in the nation's capital.

Within two hours Tuesday, House Republicans had backtracked.

Each of Utah's four all-GOP House members backed the proposal Monday.

Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, said in a statement "the current process has been abused" and reforms are needed "to improve due process, to prevent frivolous, politically motivated complaints, and increase transparency."

In a statement, Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said the vote "would have simply restructured the jurisdictional hierarchy" and "offered additional due process protections for those under investigation."

A spokeswoman for Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said he voted for the proposal but did not have a statement explaining his reasons.

Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, said in a statement that members of both parties have "recognized major problems with this program, which is not working," and called for "an appropriate solution that will solve, rather than perpetuate, problems."

Perry said Trump's tweets show he was tuned in to how stripping the authority of what's seen as an independent watchdog would be viewed by the public, especially since it conflicted with his campaign stance.

"He talked about draining the swamp. You cannot do that if you get rid of that independent group right out of the gate. It's the opposite of what he was talking about," Perry said.

Still, he said, it's not clear Trump's tweets are going to be as effective in the future.

Incoming Utah House Minority Whip Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City, joked about agreeing with Trump despite being a member of the national Democratic Coalition Against Trump.

The coalition filed a complaint against Chaffetz last October with the independent office after he announced in a tweet that FBI Director James Comey had "reopened" the case against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

"The tweet is mightier than the (U.S. House Republican) conference," Briscoe said. "Dare I say, I agree with President-elect Trump? I guess I do."

Lisa Riley Roche
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