SALT LAKE CITY — Utah members of Congress didn't drop everything to tune in to the extraordinary testimony of President Donald Trump's lawyer in a congressional hearing Wednesday.
Rather, they say they're waiting to make any judgments until special counsel Robert Mueller finishes his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, said he would continue to keep any eye on the various investigations, particularly the Mueller probe.
"I will consider new information that unfolds in today’s hearing and others, but I am primarily interested in seeing Mueller’s investigation be completed before making a final determination. Otherwise, we are a faulty jury without all of the information," he said.
In his testimony before the House Oversight Committee, Trump's former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen described the president as a "racist," a "con man" and a "cheat." Cohen said that Trump directed him to lie about his own involvement in and knowledge of the Stormy Daniels hush money payments in a February 2018 phone call.
Cohen also talked about how Trump discussed the Trump Tower Moscow project with him into the 2016 campaign and that Trump knew of Roger Stone's efforts to contact WikiLeaks ahead of the release of hacked Democratic emails during the campaign.
Republicans spent the entire hearing aiming to discredit Cohen's testimony, repeatedly calling him a liar — including lying to Congress over the Trump Tower Moscow project — and pointing out that he is a convicted felon.
None of Utah's four congressmen serve on the House Oversight Committee.
Rep. Ben McAdams, Utah's only Democrat in Congress, said the public deserves to know the facts and to draw its own conclusions, adding he supports the Mueller investigation continuing without interference.
"Congress does have a constitutional oversight role and this hearing is important in that regard. I'm monitoring the testimony and look forward to all the facts coming out for Congress and for the public," he said.
Curtis, too, said it's imperative that the Mueller probe go on without external influence.
"As I have said before, our country hinges upon due process and procedures that assure a fair review of the facts," he said.
Chris Karpowitz, co-director of BYU's Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy, called Cohen's testimony "embarrassing" for the president, basically saying Trump is unfit for office.
"Whether that is going to change the political calculation is uncertain," he said. "The thing that could fundamentally change the political calculation for the president is if he loses support among Republicans, and so far that has not happened."
After having reservations about Trump before he took office, Utah Republicans in Congress have largely supported him, though Utahns in general have yet to go all in on the president.
"Unlike other Republican states, support of Trump is low relative to what we would expect for a Republican president as this point in his term," Karpowitz said.
There's "no question" the behavior Cohen described of Trump is out of step with how most Utahns go about their lives, he said.
"If a member of the delegation chose to be more critical (of Trump), I think there's room to do that," Karpowitz said.
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, had a busy schedule Wednesday and wasn't able to watch the hearing, according to spokeswoman Liz Johnson.
But Romney has made observations of Trump that are similar to Cohen's over the past three years.
In a speech at the University of Utah in 2016, Romney said, "Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the members of the American public for suckers."
Romney tried to distance himself from those comments during his Senate campaign last year.
In 2017, Romney didn't call Trump a racist but demanded he apologize for his remarks about the deadly racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
"Whether he intended to or not, what he communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn," Romney said at the time.29 comments on this story
Last August, Romney tweeted that the convictions of Cohen and Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort confirmed his faith in the U.S. justice system.
Other members of Utah's federal delegation didn't respond to requests for comment on the Cohen hearing.
Trump tweeted that "Michael Cohen was one of many lawyers who represented me (unfortunately). He had other clients also. He was just disbarred by the State Supreme Court for lying & fraud. He did bad things unrelated to Trump. He is lying in order to reduce his prison time. Using Crooked’s lawyer!"