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DEEP DIVISIONS: President Trump is one of the most polarizing presidents in American history. The American public's opinion about whether to impeach him is just as divided.
Public opinion is still at a stalemate: A new Washington Post-ABC News poll out this morning finds that 49 percent believe Trump should be impeached and removed from office and 46 percent believe he should not. These findings are essentially the same as in October.
And Americans are entrenched in their positions: “Weeks of public testimony and days of rancorous committee hearings over the president’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian leaders to investigate a political rival have had no impact on how Americans see the charges pending against the president,” our colleagues Dan Balz, Scott Clement and Emily Guskin report.
About that partisan divide: 85 percent of Democrats believe that Trump should be impeached and removed and 86 percent of Republicans say he should not.
- In fact, support for the president among Republicans has actually intensified: "Republican support for impeachment has slipped from 18 percent in October to 12 percent today," our colleagues report.
- Similarly, Republicans and Democrats hold opposing views on the charges that Trump is facing: "In the view of Republicans, 78 percent say Trump did not improperly pressure Ukraine and 85 percent say he did not obstruct Congress. Among Democrats, 80 percent say Trump improperly pressured Ukraine and 82 percent say he obstructed Congress."
- Still, as the graph below shows, Americans broadly are divided on Trump's actions when setting aside the question of whether his conduct rises to impeachment:
PAGING MITCH MCCONNELL: As the impeachment process moves from the House to a likely Senate trial, "bipartisan majorities, including almost 2 in 3 Republicans, also say [Trump] should allow his top aides to testify, something he has blocked during the House inquiry."
- The breakdown: "Among Democrats, 79 percent say Trump should let his advisers appear before the Senate, while among Republicans, 64 percent agree. Among independents, 72 percent favor their appearance."
- The Senate's top Democrat, Chuck Schumer, is asking the majority leader to subpoena the senior administration officials to appear as witnesses, including former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
- Six in 10 Americans are confident that Trump will receive a "fair trial" in the Senate: "On this question, there is rare agreement across political lines, with 62 percent of Democrats, 61 percent of Republicans and 64 percent independents expressing confidence in the proceedings," our colleagues write.
But Republicans may want to pay heed to polling on this particular popular talking point to delegitimize the impeachment process:
- "Most Americans say they believe the proceedings before the House Intelligence Committee and the House Judiciary Committee have been fair to the president, with 55 percent saying hearings have been fair and 38 percent saying they were unfair," our colleagues report.
- "That is virtually identical to public assessments of the proceedings before the House Judiciary Committee during [Bill] Clinton’s impeachment, and runs counter to Trump’s repeated complaint that he has been treated unfairly."
It seems unlikely that Americans might change their minds on the impeachment process: Few Americans are paying close attention to the inquiry because of the "lack of drama about the expected outcome and the highly partisan nature of the proceedings," our colleagues note.
- There's a big lack of interest compared to Clinton: "The Post-ABC poll finds that 62 percent say they are closely following the developments against Trump, compared with 82 percent who said they were closely following the impeachment proceedings in December 1998," our colleagues report. "In the current poll, 18 percent say they are not following impeachment too closely while 20 percent say they are not following it at all. In 1998, the numbers were lower in both of those cases, with just 5 percent say they were paying no attention."
FOR PLANNING PURPOSES: Here's what's up next, from The Post's helpful impeachment calendar:
On The Hill
CENTRISTS DEMS BACK IMPEACHMENT: A contingent of centrist Democratic lawmakers including those in districts that Trump carried in 2016 came out in favor of impeachment despite the political risks, our colleagues Seung Min Kim, Felicia Sonmez and Philip Rucker report.
- Key stat: At least 17 of the 31 House Democrats representing Trump-won districts say they will vote to impeach the president. (12 have yet to weigh in.)
- So far: Only two, Collin Peterson (Minn.) and Jeff Van Drew (N.J.), have said they will vote against the articles of impeachment. Van Drew is expected to switch parties. Democrats had been bracing for as many as six vote against impeachment, our colleagues previously reported.
Here's what some of the 17 recent impeachment converts have said about their decisions. (Our colleagues are tracking every single member's statements here.)
Rep. Elissa Slotkin (Mich.): “I will stick to that regardless of what it does to me politically, because this is bigger than politics,” she said at a town hall, our colleague Griff Witte reports from a Detroit suburb. Trump supporters greeted her with jeers and one shouted “Impeach Slotkin” as she discussed her decision.
- Trump won her district by nearly 7 percentage points. A former CIA analyst, Slotkin wrote a letter in The Washington Post with six other Democratic freshmen lawmakers with national security experience calling for an impeachment inquiry in September, a pivotal moment in the probe as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi came out in favor of an inquiry the very next day.
Rep. Joe Cunningham (S.C.): “I’ve waited and waited and I have not found any evidence they submitted compelling at all,” he told the Charleston-based Post and Courier. “At the end of day, this is simply about the rule of law, whether we’re a country with laws or not and what type of precedent we want to set for future presidents.”
- Trump won Cunningham's district by 13 percentage points. An ocean engineer and attorney, Cunningham was the first Democrat to carry the Charleston-based district that stretches south down the coast.
Rep. Ben McAdams (Utah): “[Trump's] actions weakened our country and the checks and balances enshrined in our founding documents,” McAdams told reporters in Utah. He prefaced his statement by saying he preferred a bipartisan censure of the Trump and criticized both parties for decades of divisive rhetoric. (Perhaps fittingly, he wore a red tie with blue stripes.)
- Trump won his district by 7 percentage points. A former state senator and two-term mayor of Salt Lake County, McAdams beat then-Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah), who was viewed as a rising star in the party, by less than 700 votes in 2018.
Outside the Beltway
POSSIBLE MASS GRAVES FOUND LINKED TO 1921 MASSACRE: "After nearly a century, Tulsa may be closer to finally answering whether bodies of black people killed in the 1921 race massacre were dumped into mass graves after one of the worst episodes of racial violence in U.S. history," our colleague DeNeen L. Brown reports.
- What researchers found: "Scientists said they detected the anomalies beneath the ground at Oaklawn Cemetery and an area in Tulsa called the 'The Canes,' where the Interstate 244 bridge crosses the Arkansas River," our colleague writes. "They recommended further radar survey and physical excavation of the sites." They caution that it is unknown what exactly lies beneath the surface, but the anomalies are consistent with mass graves.
- Why this is happening now: "Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said the city is obligated to find out what happened in 1921 as the city prepares to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the massacre."
What happened in 1921: "The massacre began on May 31, 1921, when a white mob marched on Greenwood, one of the richest black communities in the country," our colleague writes. "It was often referred to as 'Negro Wall Street' and later 'Black Wall Street.'" Historians believe as many as 300 people were later killed and most of Greenwood was burned to the ground.
Rudy Giuliani on Yovanovitch: I didn’t need her out of the way, I forced her out because she’s corrupt pic.twitter.com/eLV4onbFkY— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) December 17, 2019
In the Media
WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Congress reached a $1.3 trillion deal to avert a shutdown: The 2,313-page bill includes "a pay raise for federal workers, money for federal gun violence research and the repeal of several taxes associated with the 2010 health care law," our colleague Mike DeBonis reports.
Rudy can't stop talking: "Rudolph W. Giuliani said on Monday that he provided President Trump with detailed information this year about how the United States ambassador to Ukraine was, in Mr. Giuliani’s view, impeding investigations that could benefit Mr. Trump, setting in motion the ambassador’s recall from her post," the New York Times's Ken Vogel reports.
- "In an interview, Mr. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, described how he passed along to Mr. Trump 'a couple of times' accounts about how the ambassador, Marie L. Yovanovitch, had frustrated efforts that could be politically helpful to Mr. Trump. They included investigations involving former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Ukrainians who disseminated documents that damaged Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign," per Vogel.
More Rudy: "I believed that I needed Yovanovitch out of the way,” Giuliani told the New Yorker's Adam Entous. “She was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody.”
- Why all this matters: "Giuliani's admission appears to be the first time someone has directly linked Yovanovitch's removal to the desired investigations into Democrats," CNN's Michael Warren reports.
The Mormon church may have misled members about $100 billion it has saved: "A former investment manager alleges in a whistleblower complaint to the Internal Revenue Service that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has amassed about $100 billion in accounts intended for charitable purposes, according to a copy of the complaint obtained by The Post," our colleagues Jon Swaine, Douglas MacMillan and Michelle Boorstein report.