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Chaffetz's Support Of Trump Brings Boos And Jeers At Utah Town Hall

Rep. Jason Chaffetz speaks during a town hall meeting at Brighton High School on Thursday in Cottonwood Heights, Utah.
Rick Bowmer
Rep. Jason Chaffetz speaks during a town hall meeting at Brighton High School on Thursday in Cottonwood Heights, Utah.

U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, faced boos and jeers from Utahns in his home district during a rowdy town hall Thursday night in the suburbs outside Salt Lake City.

More than 1,000 people packed into the auditorium of Brighton High School for the noisy forum, with hundreds more stuck outside.

Amid near-constant shouts and interruptions, Chaffetz was asked about everything from his controversial public lands bills to efforts to defund Planned Parenthood to President Trump's executive order temporarily prohibiting travelers of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

But the issue those in attendance raised most was Trump himself, and whether Chaffetz, as head of the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, planned to investigate the president's potential business conflicts as vigorously as he did Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server.

Chaffetz reiterated his position that Trump, as president, is exempt from conflict of interest laws and that he would not abuse his authority as committee chairman to go on a "fishing expedition."

Chaffetz later added that he had sent a letter on Thursday to the Office of Government Ethics drawing issue with Trump aide Kellyanne Conway's recent endorsement of merchandise marketed by the president's daughter Ivanka Trump — but that did little to appease the crowd.

One person who identified herself as a retired Salt Lake City teacher asked Chaffetz what his "line in the sand was" pertaining to Trump's many controversies, to which the congressman replied, "the law."

Organizers brought "Agree" and "Disagree" signs to hold up during the meeting, but most stuck to yelling, booing and the occasional "Do your job!" chant.

Chaffetz was elected to his fifth term representing Utah's 3rd Congressional District last November. The enormous, largely rural district includes portions of Salt Lake City's suburbs and the city of Provo.

Copyright 2017 KUER 90.1

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.