The impeachment inquiry hearings that have taken place so far have revealed a number of damaging and disturbing things when it comes to the character and leadership of President Donald Trump.
So far, within the public phase of the inquiry, and beyond within other news headlines over the past two weeks, we have:
- learned that a dinner call between Trump and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, on an unsecured phone that Russia could have been listening in on, took place on July 26, one day after a call took place between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, where Trump asked for a “favor” to investigate the Bidens and a debunked conspiracy theory. In the restaurant, Sondland could be overheard by those he dined with discussing the “investigations” with Trump;
- seen Trump seemingly try to intimidate the testimony of former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, tweeting disparaging comments about her while she was speaking to House investigators in real-time;
- heard Trump try to say that he didn’t know two members of his White House very well — National Security Council member Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who Trump also appointed to represent the U.S. at Zelensky’s inauguration, as well as on Wednesday saying he didn’t know Sondland well either, in spite of sending out glowing tweets about him just a few days prior;
- seen Sondland discuss in his testimony on Wednesday how he viewed Trump’s actions as directing his surrogates to engage Ukraine in a quid pro quo;
- and learned through reporting from the Wall Street Journal that the plan to withhold aid from Ukraine was hatched weeks before the July 25 call, and furthermore that Ukraine was aware that aid was being withheld at that time, putting holes in the arguments of defenders of Trump that Kyiv wasn’t aware about the aid being held up.
This is just a drop in the bucket of information that has come out, and not surprisingly many observers have noted these have been a very difficult group of days for Trump. Those who have watched the hearings with an open mind, one must conclude, cannot say that this president didn’t do something wrong, or possibly impeachable.
The problem is, not everyone is paying close attention to the impeachment inquiry hearings.
Some 70% of registered voters say they've been paying "very" or "fairly" close attention to the House impeachment inquiry, a new NPR/Marist/@NewsHour poll finds,
53% of those say they're more likely to support impeachment. https://t.co/B1uEdlN46U
— NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) November 19, 2019
According to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released this week, 64 percent of Americans are following the hearings very closely or fairly closely. That’s a good number, but the poll also found that a sizable chunk of America isn’t paying attention, with more than a third saying they’re not watching closely.
There’s a clear difference in opinion that’s noticeable among those two groups of people. When it comes to Trump’s approval ratings, those who are paying close attention to the impeachment drama are more likely to disapprove of Trump’s job performance than are those who aren’t paying attention. Fifty-five percent of those who are paying attention disapprove of Trump’s performance so far, while only 44 percent of Americans among those not paying attention disapprove of the president’s time in office.
Those who pay attention are more likely to approve of the inquiry itself, too. Among those who are following the hearings, 54 percent say they approve of them, while 43 percent say they do not. The margin is tighter among those not paying attention: 43 percent among that group say they approve of the impeachment hearings, while 41 percent say they don’t.
The disparity in opinions between those who have been paying attention and those who have been less inclined to watch or listen to the impeachment inquiry provides a clear conclusion: if you’re seeing what’s going on, it’s hard for you to say this president doesn’t deserve to be investigated or impeached.