American Public Opinion on the Impeachment 3 February 2020.

A nation-wide poll taken between 26 and 29 January 2020, sought to establish attitudes toward President Trump during the impeachment hearings.[1]

First, what did a majority of Americans believe?

A large majority (c. 59 percent) of respondents believed that the Democrats in the House and the Senate were inspired to impeach Trump by political motivations.

A majority (53 percent) of respondents believed that President Trump obstructed Congress in his resistance to the House impeachment inquiry.

Over half (52 percent) of respondents believed that Trump had asked the President of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden in order to influence the November 2020 election.

Republicans overwhelmingly (91 percent) opposed Trump’s removal from office.

Democratic voters overwhelmingly (84 percent) support Trump’s removal from office.

Among Independents, 50 percent opposed removing Trump from office.

A plurality just short of a majority (49 percent) of respondents believed that Trump should not be removed from office by the Senate.

Did the partisanship ascribed to the House inquiry and by its managers in the Senate delegitimized the whole process in the eyes of many Americans?

Does President Trump’s resistance to the partisan House inquiry fall within the category of legitimate “punching back” in the eyes of many Americans?

Does President Trump’s suborning of an investigation into Joe Biden fall into the category of a scandal, but not a removable offense?  Or, in essence, does he get a pass on this one because of the sustained bad behavior of the Democrats in the three years since his election?

 

Second, what do minorities believe?

Almost half (46 percent) of respondents believed that Trump should be removed from office by the Senate.

Among Independents 45 percent supported removing Trump from office.

In spite of all the testimony produced by the House inquiry, 41 percent of respondents did not believe that Trump had asked the President of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden in order to influence the November 2020 election.

About a third (37 percent) of respondents believed that the Democrats were inspired by the defense of the Constitution.

A little more than a third (37 percent) of respondents did not believe that Trump obstructed Congress.

There is a big chunk of people—Democrats, Independents, and Republicans—who want Trump removed from office.  They don’t add up to a majority.

There are two separate one-thirds or more of the country who believe absurd things: that Democrats are defending the Constitution and that Trump didn’t invite an investigation.

 

[1] Aaron Zitner, “Americans’ Opinion of President Barely Budge After Impeachment,” WSJ, 3 February 2020; https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/meet-the-press/nbc-wsj-poll-country-remains-divided-over-trump-s-impeachment-n1128326

Listening to the Impeachment Hearings.

First, there is no doubt that President Trump extorted the President of Ukraine to announce an investigation of Joe Biden.  He did so, apparently, to besmirch a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Second, there is no doubt that the Republican majority in the Senate is going to acquit Trump of both counts.  There seems to be a shrinking likelihood that enough Republican “moderates” will join the Democrats to even call witnesses.

Third, the obstruction of Congress charge seems ridiculous because the Democrats on the Intelligence and Judiciary committees never made any serious appeal to the courts.   The Trump administration has been sued many times.  They have fought it out in the courts.  Whenever they have lost, they have complied.

Fourth, once Trump has been acquitted, do the Republicans have any plan to keep him from doing some other outrageous thing?  Throw Mike Pence overboard at the convention and impose some really serious person as Trump’s second vice president?  Grit their teeth until Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been replaced with a conservative.  Behind these actions would be the implicit threat that “Next time, you dumb son-of-a-bitch, we will impeach you.”

Fifth, Trump’s defense has argued that many, perhaps most, political acts combine a legitimate policy interest with a politician’s selfish or self-absorbed personal interest.  Hence, these decisions can not be described as “corrupt.”  Democrats have countered that, under the law, any “corrupt” purpose overwhelms any legitimate purpose.  It renders the whole action “corrupt.”  Well, the Democrats have been bug-eyed with fear and rage since November 2016.  They talked a lot about “collusion” (their term, not Trump’s before they started using it on talk shows).  They raised high expectations that the Mueller investigation would prove that Trump had committed crimes that merited impeachment.  They tried to make a case for obstruction of justice after the Mueller investigation “failed to establish” (i.e. couldn’t find any proof of) such “collusion.”  They wanted Trump removed for political reasons that would advantage the Democrats and disgrace the Republicans.  By their own standards, that would seem to meet the definition of “corruption.”