At about the moment fired FBI Director James Comey was sitting down to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Steve Scheffler, a well-known Iowa social conservative activist, was waiting in a Washington hotel to hear President Trump speak to a crowd of about 700 at the annual meeting of the Faith & Freedom Coalition.
I asked Scheffler if Iowa Republicans are worried about Trump and the Russia investigation.
"I don't think so at all," he said. "I think it's all a lot of fluff and the Democrats are looking for some traction because they still can't get over the fact they lost the election."
Not far away, Rabbi Aryeh Spero, of Canton, Ohio, who runs a conservative organization called Caucus for America, was similarly unconcerned.
"I don't think Trump is guilty of anything," Spero told me. "I think this is a fabricated issue to basically undo the will of the people. This is much ado about nothing."
Herb and Donna Fisher, of Lancaster, Pa., expressed faith in Trump.
"I don't think the president had any involvement with Russia," Herb said. "Maybe some of his people crossed the line a little bit, but I personally don't think he was involved."
"We love the president," Donna said. "We're thrilled. I don't think he'd go out on a limb and do something that would hurt our country."
And so on.
Before the event, I asked an organizer to describe the audience's views on the Trump-Russia matter. Some are concerned, he said — not hair-on-fire concerned, but at least a little worried. Others, not at all — they believe that even if there is a molehill about Russia, which they don't think there is, it's the media that is exaggerating it into a mountain.
If there were those who were worried, they weren't saying so.
"No concerns," said John Hagee, the Texas megachurch evangelist and founder of Global Evangelism Television. "I think it's something that truly is a witch hunt. It has no substance legally."
"No concerns," said Father Charles Sikorsky, the president of Divine Mercy University in Arlington, Virginia. "Until there's any concrete evidence, it seems to me it's more of a political attack on the president."
"Ideology is behind a lot of it," Sikorsky continued. "I'm a lawyer. If they had something by now, you would have heard a lot more about it."
Organizers didn't know what to expect when Trump took the stage. They had heard the White House was considering having the president mention the Russia affair, and also considering having him ignore it. As it turned out, the closest Trump came to discussing Russia was a sentence that didn't mention Russia at all.
"As you know, we're under siege," he said. "You understand that. But we will come out bigger and better and stronger than ever. You watch."
Other than that, Trump said nothing that even hinted at the Comey hearing going on four miles away in the Hart Senate Office Building. Instead, an on-message Trump focused on issues dear to the hearts of the social conservatives in front of him.
There was Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement — they loved that. And his decision to reinstate the Mexico City Policy — they loved that, too. His opposition to the Johnson Amendment — more love. Religious freedom — same.
"As long as I am president, no one is going to stop you from practicing your faith or preaching what is in your heart," Trump told the crowd.
He received cheers over the judiciary, too — and not just for his choice of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. It received little attention, but on Wednesday, as Washington obsessed over the early-released Comey opening statement, Trump announced the nomination of a new slate of conservative federal judges, including three for the nation's circuit courts of appeals and three for the District Court for the District of Columbia, which can be an important court when scandals or other prosecutions hit an administration.
On some issues, Trump had a campaign-style bond with many in the audience. When he pledged to keep working to "repeal the disaster," he paused for a moment before saying, "known as," and paused again before the audience, familiar with the script, shouted out "OBAMACARE!"
The president came to Washington expressing some hope that he would be able to work with Democrats in Congress. But at Faith & Freedom Thursday, he said he has completely given up.
"The Democrats are obstructionists," Trump said. "It would be great to get along with them, but it seems to be impossible.' Obamacare, Trump said, is Exhibit A of the Democrats' wall of opposition. "Obamacare is dead," he declared. "And don't let them pin it on Republicans, by the way. We've only been here for a short period of time. If we had the best plan in the history of the world, we wouldn't get one Democrat vote."
What Trump didn't mention, but the crowd knew, is that many of the social conservatives there blamed Republicans, too, for the state of things on Capitol Hill.
"I think they [Hill Republicans] are not supporting Trump," said June Ann Humphrey, of Columbia, Mo. "I think they're just worried about their own skin and the next election. And they weren't sent to Washington to just worry about themselves."
If Trump had denounced timid and bumbling Republicans who can't get anything done in Congress, he probably would have won applause in the room.
So while Comey testified, and news organizations covered the hearing wall-to-wall, and also covered considerably less newsy stories like people gathered at a few Washington bars to watch the testimony, the president was enjoying what amounted to a lovefest at the Faith & Freedom gathering. There was wide agreement on a lot of issues, but at the bottom of it all was a deep gratitude to Trump for doing one thing: winning the White House.
"It is June of 2017," Sen. Ted Cruz told the audience. "And Hillary Clinton is not President of the United States." At the heart of things, that is what really mattered most — still matters most — to the crowd.
Steve Scheffler, the Iowa social conservative activist, got to go backstage for a few minutes and have his picture taken with the president. Scheffler brought with him a prized artifact — a copy of the alternative election-night edition of Newsweek, with a cover photo of Clinton and the headline "MADAM PRESIDENT." Scheffler asked for an autograph. Trump signed it in large script — right across his old adversary's face.