Democrats seem to have won a major PR battle over their impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. According to a CBS News poll released Sunday, a majority of Americans approve of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment inquiry. But Americans still oppose impeachment, and most of them think the Democrats’ inquiry is a political stunt against Trump more than an attempt to defend U.S. interests. Americans also favor an investigation into corruption claims regarding Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.
More Americans (55 percent) approve of the inquiry than disapprove of it (45 percent). This reflects a polling skew in favor of Democrats, however. Most Republicans disapprove (77 percent) of the inquiry, while a few approve of it (23 percent). Similarly, more Independents disapprove (51 percent) than approve (49 percent). Yet Democrats are firmly in favor of the inquiry (87 percent to 13 percent).
The inquiry surrounds the July 25 call, in which Trump asked Zelensky to help Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to investigate potential corruption surrounding Hunter Biden. Joe Biden was the Obama administration’s point person with Ukraine, and the Ukrainian gas company Burisma hired Hunter despite the VP’s son lacking any experience in the energy sector. Biden also pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor amid an investigation into Burisma, explicitly using a quid pro quo, threatening military aid. Hunter Biden also cashed out in China.
Unlike with Joe Biden, Trump did not use an explicit quid pro quo to ask Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden. The president released the transcript of the call, and the whistleblower complaint about the call has also been released. The transcript did not support Democrats’ hyperbolic complaints about Trump enlisting a foreign power in the U.S. election.
Worse for Democrats, three Democratic senators sent a letter last year asking Ukraine to keep investigating Trump in the Robert Mueller probe, suggesting military aid was on the line. For Democrats to turn around and accuse Trump of doing what they essentially did should undermine their narrative entirely.
Americans may support the inquiry, but most say Trump’s actions were legal. Only 28 percent say Trump’s actions were proper, but 31 percent say his actions were not proper, but legal. Forty-one percent say his actions were illegal.
While 42 percent of Americans say Trump deserves to be impeached, 58 percent say he does not deserve to be impeached (36 percent) or that it is too soon to say (22 percent). Most Democrats (75 percent) say he deserves to be impeached, along with 35 percent of Independents and 16 percent of Republicans. More Independents (41 percent) said the president does not deserve to be impeached.
Importantly, more Americans say Trump’s assertions about Hunter Biden’s potential corruption deserve further investigation (43 percent). Only 28 percent say they do not deserve more investigation, and 29 percent say it is too soon to say.
Americans see political motives behind Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. Most said the Democrats’ goals are to “politically damage Donald Trump’s presidency and his reelection” (53 percent) rather than to “protect U.S. interests and investigate what happened” (47 percent). Most Independents saw political motives driving the inquiry (59 percent to 41 percent).
However, most Americans also suspect political motives behind Trump’s actions with Ukraine. When asked about the president’s goals, most said he aimed to “help his own re-election, regardless of the impact on U.S. interests” (56 percent), more than to “protect U.S. interests and stop corruption” (44 percent).
Impeachment is a drastic action, and it seems utterly hypocritical for Democrats to pursue it, given their own recent history with Ukraine. Sadly, America has become so polarized that Republicans and Democrats cannot agree on the substance of what happened, even when the transcript of the call has been released.
Perhaps Democrats enjoy the support of Americans on the impeachment inquiry due to the legacy media’s obsession with impeachment. When Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) delivered fake quotes from the transcript on national television, twisting Trump’s remarks to Zelensky in order to present them in the worst possible light, the mainstream media almost entirely ignored the story.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.