Attorney General John Swallow tells House leaders 'my side of the story'
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Embattled Attorney General John Swallow said he shared "my side of the story" Wednesday morning with House conservatives in advance of a three-hour GOP caucus later on impeachment.
Swallow told the Deseret News after the meeting his only concern about a legislative investigation on top of the federal, state and local probes already underway is the "hyper-politicized process that we might have in this state if we jump the gun."
House Republicans are scheduled to meet beginning at 11:30 a.m. to discuss whether to launch an investigation into the numerous allegations against Swallow that could lead to impeachment proceedings.
The attorney general, who does not plan to address the House GOP caucus, said while he did not advise the conservative members of the caucus what to do, he suggested they should wait for the federal investigation to be completed.
Swallow said the U.S. Department of Justice investigation into allegations he helped broker a deal for an indicted Utah businessman seeking to derail a federal inquiry is in "its winding down stages."
"I think we will should the answers within two to three months," Swallow said. "That is nothing more than looking at other similar types of investigations," such as a 10-month examination of the Arizona attorney general.
Having the results of the investigation by September or October, he said he told the House conservatives, "is still plenty of time once those answers are given for the Legislature then to consider what they want to do."
Swallow said he was asking the public and lawmakers to respect his right to due process.
"Of all the people who deserve the benefit of due process, it's the attorney general. The attorney general affords that right to others and I'm asking the people of this state to afford the same consideration to the attorney general," he said.
Swallow said the public does not "want their attorney general tried in the media, which is what is happening here." He referred to a legal opinion by his personal attorneys that said impeachment proceedings against him were unwarranted.
Federal authorities "depoliticized" his case by moving the investigation to the Justice Department's public integrity section, Swallow said.
"I think that the biggest worry I have is that this will become politicized, hyper-politicized," he said of any investigation by the Legislature. "That's the concern. I think that's what a lot of them are also concerned with, that if they're not careful, this will become a political feeding frenzy."
Gov. Gary Herbert said Wednesday "the Legislature is handling this exactly right" and declined to comment on their discussions.
"This is an unfortunate situation in our state's history. This is unprecedented," Herbert said. "It's historical. I think the Legislature needs to be very cautious, methodical, careful as they go about this evaluation, which I believe they are doing."
Last week, the governor told reporters that if the attorney general worked for him, he'd be gone and said he was "increasingly alarmed with the stuff that's bubbling out, what I consider ethical challenges, ethical violations."
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