Nearly half of Utahns believe the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol is conducting fair and impartial hearings.
And an equal number say former President Donald Trump should be charged with a crime in relation to the events that occurred on that day.
After eight congressional hearings, the question over whether Trump should be prosecuted for his connection to the riot continues to hang in the air. Presenting video clips and firsthand testimony, members of the bipartisan committee have said there is credible evidence that the former president led an attempt to block the peaceful transfer of power and hold onto the White House despite losing the 2020 election.
Whether the Justice Department decides to prosecute the former president remains to be seen.
Utahns are almost evenly split on the issue, according to a new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll. The survey found 49% of voters say Trump should face prosecution for his role in what happened at the Capitol, while 47% say he should not. Another 5% don’t know.
The events leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol remain divisive, said Jason Perry, director of the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics.
“This is an issue that will likely continue through the November elections and may have an impact on how people vote,” he said.
As expected, Perry said, views on the hearings vary widely depending on political party, with Republicans more likely to say the hearings are unfair and Democrats voicing strong support for criminal charges being levied on Trump.
The poll found sharp distinctions when it comes to both political party and ideology.
Among Democrats, 93% say Trump should face criminal charges, compared to 35% of Republicans. The survey shows 61% of Republicans disagree that Trump should be prosecuted.
Those who identified themselves as “very conservative” overwhelmingly opposed prosecuting the former president, but nearly a third of those who say they’re “somewhat conservative” favored prosecution. More than 91% of “very” and “somewhat” liberal Utahns also want to see Trump charged with a crime.
As for moderates, 61% agree he should be charged, 31% disagree and 8% don’t know.
Dan Jones & Associates conducted the poll of 801 Utah registered voters from July 13-18. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.46 percentage points.
The committee’s primetime hearing last week — after the survey was taken — focused on the 187 minutes between Trump leaving his rally on the Ellipse and his video message finally asking the rioters at the Capitol to go home.
There was no official record of what Trump did between 1:10 p.m. to 4:17 p.m. and no White House call logs or official White House photos. The committee, though, found Trump spent the time watching Fox News from the dining room next to the Oval Office and refusing to call off the attack, even as family members and allies urged him to tell his supporters to leave.
Critics argue that the committee, which includes Republican Reps. Liz Cheney, of Wyoming, and Adam Kinzinger, of Illinois, amounts to a political hit job by Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans. They also contend the panel’s seats were filled with partisan bias, resulting in a flawed makeup. The committee has withstood legal challenges, and is expected to finish its work despite the criticism.
For 49% of Utahns, that work has been fair and impartial, according to the poll. Another 43% disagree, while 8% don’t know.
Republicans and Democrats are also clearly divided over how they see the hearings.
The survey shows 85% of Democrats say the proceedings are fair and impartial, compared to 39% of Republicans.
Utah voters who consider themselves “very” or “somewhat” liberal are decidedly in the fair camp, while “very conservative” voters are in the opposite camp. But among “somewhat” conservative voters, 38% believe the hearings are fair.
The poll found 65% of “moderate” voters agree that the committee hearings are fair and impartial, while 24% disagree and 10% don’t know.
Interestingly, there is a big gender gap on that issue, with 54% of women saying the committee is fair, compared to 45% of men. It is even wider when it comes to criminal charges, with 58% of women saying Trump should be charged with a crime versus just 41% of men.
Earlier Deseret News/Hinckley Institute polls found Utahns are divided over how much responsibility Trump bears for the riot that resulted in five deaths.
A February survey showed 37% of Utahns believe Trump bears a “great deal” of responsibility for the attack, while 14% say he bears a “good amount.” It also shows 23% believe he bears no responsibility for what happened, while 19% say “not very much.”
A January 2021 poll — conducted just a week after the Capitol attack — yielded similar results.
Correction: The graphics in a previous version incorrectly stated the poll was conducted in June. It was conducted in July.