Polls: Americans Catching Impeachment Inquiry Fever, But...

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Posted: Oct 10, 2019 10:05 AM
Polls: Americans Catching Impeachment Inquiry Fever, But...

That headline is a slight exaggeration, perhaps, but anyone who's telling you that the 'coup attempt'/'witch hunt' impeachment inquiry is unpopular or failing isn't quite leveling with you -- or isn't quite willing to face up to the emerging reality themselves.  The truth of the matter, for now, is that a clear double-digit majority of American voters now favor the opening of an impeachment inquiry into President Trump over the Ukraine matter (and no, the report you may be hearing about that supposedly explodes the 'quid' in the possible quid pro quo doesn't really do so).  The president and his defenders may strenuously insist that his phone call with Ukraine's leader was "perfect" or entirely appropriate, but the public does not agree.  Hence numbers like this:


Six consecutive public polls have demonstrated majority public backing for the probe.  And movement on this front is not limited to Democratic partisans following the lead of their party:  


Support for actually impeaching and removing Trump from office is significantly lower than the increased appetite for the inquiry -- with opposition outstripping support (-6 in NBC/WSJ, -4 in Quinnipiac) in most cases -- but the spread is likely too close for comfort for Team Trump (update: Trump's worst poll on this subject drops via...Fox).  This is not to say that Trump is in any real danger of being thrown out of office through this process.  House Democrats likely have the votes to impeach him, but there's no way that anywhere close to two-thirds of the Senate is prepared to 'convict' him, based on the current facts.  Even the GOP Senators who are (rightly, in my view) publicly condemning certain indefensible elements of the president's conduct do not seem anywhere close to calling for his removal.  

Nevertheless, it seems undeniable that at this stage that: (a) Most voters believe Trump's public and private appeals for at least two foreign governments to open investigations into one of the top threats to his re-election prospects is seriously inappropriate, (b) angry insistences and wild histrionics to the contrary are not working, and (c) an electorate open to impeaching a president probably isn't eager to re-elect him.  This sort of rhetoric is bananas and helps convince zero persuadable people:


The more serious and constructive anti-impeachment case is that an overwhelmingly (if not exclusively) partisan effort to undo the results of a free and fair election is an extraordinary step that is not warranted in the absence of clear high crimes -- especially with a national election on the horizon, and within the context of the empty 'Russia collusion' debacle.  Voters will have a chance to again render a verdict on the president next November.  Secondly, as Jonah Goldberg told me on the radio on Tuesday, the Democrats' farcical opacity and secrecy as this quasi-official process unfolds harms their credibility, too.  We're learning more about the partisan dealings of the original whistleblower (the relevance of which is diminished by the actual content of the Zelensky transcript), yet Hill Democrats are suggesting going to ludicrous lengths to avoid any scrutiny of his motives.  

And unlike the White House, which has released key documents for Congressional and public review, House Democrats are refusing to publish transcripts of behind-closed-doors testimony, selectively releasing snippets of content that advance their agenda instead.  Democrats want Americans to view their efforts as serious and sincere.  Thus far, they're succeeding in moving the needle, largely thanks to Trump's own behavior.  But Speaker Pelosi's continued refusal to hold a full House debate and vote on launching a formal inquiry oozes politics, as do Democratic machinations such as withholding relevant transcripts in favor of cherry-picked leaks.  Do these people intend to conduct an impeachment inquiry against the President of the United States in secret?  The Trump administration has a point when it says it isn't interested in playing along with this stacked deck, although bombastic legal-ish broadsides like this -- panned on the Right and Left as ridiculous -- do not help.  

Democrats should man up and call a vote, and match the White House's transparency on document disclosure, which would undercut the administration's political arguments in favor of refusing to cooperate further.  But because non-credible figures like Adam Schiff continue to play games, counter-punches like this will resonate with large swaths of voters who are skeptical of impeachment:


Finally, I'll leave you with this whirlwind round-up on the status of 'Russia probe origins' investigations from Fox News earlier in the week:


The potentially-explosive Horowitz report is coming soon, while John Durham's portfolio and leads are expanding:  

John Durham, the U.S. attorney reviewing the origins of the 2016 counterintelligence investigation into Russia and the Trump campaign, is probing a wider timeline than previously known, according to multiple senior administration officials. Fox News previously reported that Durham would be reviewing the days leading up to the 2016 election and through the inauguration. However, based on what he has been finding, Durham has expanded his investigation adding agents and resources, the senior administration officials said. The timeline has grown from the beginning of the probe through the election and now has included a post-election timeline through the spring of 2017, up to when Robert Mueller was named special counsel. Attorney General Bill Barr and Durham traveled to Italy recently to talk to law enforcement officials there about the probe and have also had conversations with officials in the U.K. and Australia about the investigation, according to multiple sources familiar with the meetings.

If either or both of these inquiries expose serious wrongdoing among people driving anti-Trump crusades, that could be a game-changer in terms of the national mood.  The louder Democrats squeal about these investigations in a frantic push to preemptively delegitimize them, the likelier it will be that their findings will be damning.  Trump's best play is to pull a Bill Clinton and focus on other matters, allow surrogates to push back forcefully against impeachment overreach, and to wait for impending grenades to detonate against his tormentors.  But nobody is going to impose that sort of discipline on him, even if it would help him with undecided voters outside of his hardcore base.

UPDATE: