Donald Trump is losing the public opinion battle on whether he’s a crook. Multiple polls have found that a solid majority of Americans still believe Trump committed crimes before becoming president (57-28 percent in the latest Q poll) and the country’s roughly split on whether he’s done so since taking office (46-46 percent). That’s a pretty damning ratio for a sitting president.
Similarly, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released this week showed 60 percent of Americans believe Trump lied about the Russia investigation and only 29 percent say Robert Mueller’s report cleared Trump of wrongdoing. Those numbers are pretty spot, on given that one-third of the population is hermetically sealed from reality.
But where Republicans see an opening is in a somewhat anemic public appetite for impeaching the crook in the Oval Office. While 48 percent oppose the initiation of impeachment hearings, 49 percent say either impeach now (17 percent) or continue investigating (32 percent).
“The American public has reached a hung jury,” observed Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who helped conduct the survey. “Not innocent, not guilty, and they haven’t reached a consensus.”
For Republicans, there’s no time like the present to exploit that opening. Given that most Americans already believe Trump is a congenitally dishonest criminal, allowing Democrats to continue probing Trump’s wrongdoing only stands to make things worse. Thus Tuesday’s full-court press to impede Democratic progress—working to block both former White House counsel Don McGahn and special counsel Robert Mueller from testifying as Republicans uniformly declare “case closed” on the Russia matter.
It’s deeply disingenuous, definitely obstructionist, and maybe even illegal, but it’s as good a play politically as Republicans have, to be honest.