PULLMAN Mike Leach took an interest in Donald Trump more than 15 years ago when he read the now-U.S. presidents literary work while flying from Lubbock, Texas, to New York City with his family.
Leach made it through Trumps book, How to Get Rich, and put in a call to Trump Enterprises, hoping to arrange a meeting with the business mogul and popular television personality.
The two eventually connected, building a relationship around Leachs interest in politics and business, and Trumps passion for football. Washington States eighth-year coach still keeps a framed photo of Trump in his Pullman office, signed by the president: To Mike, keep up the good work.
Leach then spoke extensively about his friendship with Trump at a 2016 rally held at the Spokane Convention Center, giving the Republican presidential candidate a ringing endorsement.
Three years later, just down the road from that same convention center, Spokane residents gathered Tuesday for a different type of rally, in support of Trumps impeachment, which came less than 24 hours later after a near party-line vote from the U.S. House of Representatives. Trump, whos been accused in two articles of impeachment abuse of power and obstruction of Congress wouldnt be removed from office unless the Senate decides to vote him out early next year.
Leach, whos been busy with recruiting obligations, the early signing period and preparation for the Cheez-It Bowl, said he hasnt done much research or spent lots of time reading about Trumps impeachment, but the coach backed his old friend on Thursday after WSUs early afternoon practice in Pullman.
I havent followed it too closely, but its clearly political, Leach said. That doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure that out.
And Im yet to hear what he did wrong. So, youve got to have a crime, I would think.
Trump has been accused of trying to convince Ukraine to investigate supposed wrongdoings by former Vice President Joe Biden, who projects to be a strong opponent for Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Trumps late-July phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is what triggered the series of events leading to Trumps impeachment.
Leach, asked if he thinks Trump will be removed from office, said, Thats a foregone conclusion he wont be.
Its unclear to what extent Leach and Trump communicate these days given their respective schedules, but in July at Pac-12 Media Day, Cougars offensive lineman Liam Ryan shared a humorous story about a phone call between the two.
He comes out an hour late to practice and were like, Where the heck is Leach? Ryan said. He comes out and were all dogging him, Coach, where have you been? Where have you been? And hes all like, I was upstairs watching you from the window. Were like, Why were you watching us? Hes like, I was talking to Donald Trump. Im like, What? Youre late to practice for talking to Donald Trump? Hes like, Yeah, thats one of my good friends. Then he goes on to tell the whole story.
Leachs political beliefs and willingness to voice them as a public figure whos also led one of the most impressive runs in WSU football history, have helped make him one of the more polarizing characters in college athletics.
The coach set off a social media storm in June 2018 when he shared, and later removed, a doctored video of a Barack Obama speech from his personal Twitter account. Leach posted a complete transcript of the speech, saying, I agree that the video was incomplete. However, I believe discussion on how much or how little power our Gov should have is important.
Leach has also formed a close friendship and traveled with former Washington state Sen. Michael Baumgartner, a Republican. The two taught a popular not-for-credit class at WSU last spring, titled Insurgent Warfare & Football Strategy.
WSU has supported its coachs freedom of speech and encouraged Leach to share his views in a personal capacity.
In 2016, after Leach appeared in Spokane for Trumps rally, the university released a statement regarding employees who express personal views.
Free speech is a form of diversity diversity of opinion and diversity is a core value of WSU, the statement read. As a public institution, we serve as a platform for the expression of a wide diversity of views and opinions and value the opportunity to do so. The opinions of any one employee, however, do not in any way speak for the institution.
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