By the narrowest of margins, Americans now say Donald Trump’s Senate trial should result in his removal from office.
That’s according to a new Pew Research Center poll, released on Wednesday. 51% of US adults said the Senate should convict Trump, while 46% said he should be allowed to keep his job as the most powerful man on the planet.
Not surprisingly, the results were split almost entirely along partisan lines, with 86% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents saying Trump should be acquitted and 85% of Democrats and Democratic leaners saying he should be sent on a permanent vacation to Mar-a-Lago.
As you can see, Americans aren’t nearly as divided on whether Trump has done things that are either unethical or illegal, with 70% saying he’s likely “guilty” of the former and 63% expressing some degree of confidence that the president has, in fact, broken the law either while in office or while running for president.
Pretty much by definition, that means that at least some Americans are ok with an unethical criminal occupying the Oval Office. Pew writes that “while a majority of the 32% of Republicans who say Trump has likely done illegal things either during the campaign or while in office also say he should remain in office (59%), about four-in-ten (38%) say the president should be removed”.
You might be inclined to say that Americans are cynical enough about Washington these days that a poll would produce similar results irrespective of who was president, but that’s hardly comforting, nor is it exculpatory.
Not surprisingly, a quick look at the more granular break down shows that Trump’s support is strongest among undereducated white folks. 64% of white respondents without a college degree said Trump should stay in office. Despite Trump’s claims to popularity among African Americans, 82% of those polled said he should be removed.
Meanwhile, the actual trial is a circus. Democrats are making a case based on a clear pattern of behavior that, frankly, has defined Trump for his entire life – not just his tenure as president.
Adam Schiff on Wednesday noted that the infamous July 25 call with Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky came just one day after Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony.
“That should tell us something”, Schiff remarked. “He did not feel shamed by what the special counsel found, he did not feel deterred by what the special counsel found, he felt emboldened by escaping accountability”.
There’s nothing to argue with there. That is simply a statement of fact. And that sequence of events (the proximity of the Mueller testimony and the Zelensky call) has been documented countless times before by reporters and lawmakers marveling at the president’s brazenness.
This strikes at the real problem with these proceedings. The reason the outcome is preordained is precisely because what is alleged isn’t in dispute. Everyone accepts the general premise, but Republicans have made it abundantly clear that they have no intention whatsoever to do anything about it. That, in turn, makes the calling of witnesses superfluous.
That’s not to say witnesses shouldn’t be called, it’s just to ask the following simple question: If you haven’t seen enough of Trump by now, what would prompt you to finally change your mind? Three hours of hearing from John Bolton? Not likely. Some previously undisclosed e-mails from Mick Mulvaney? Give me a break.
The answer for the vast majority of Republicans is “nothing” – like the millions of voters who have literally said that nothing Trump could do would cause them to turn on this president, most GOPers have accepted (with varying degrees of reluctance) that from now until his demise, the Republican party belongs to Trump. It is a personality cult. And breaking away from the cult entails a backlash from those who are still entranced. That backlash, many Republicans worry, would come at the ballot box.
And so, here we are, with Schiff saying things like he said on Wednesday: “These facts are not in dispute. [The question is] whether the president’s undisputed actions require the removal of the 45th president of the United States”.
They clearly do, but there is no chance of that happening. Trump is, for all intents and purposes, above the law.
America is a fledging autocracy until proven otherwise, and we would continue to suggest that if Trump were to lose in November and the margin is anywhere close, Trump will not accept defeat.