WASHINGTON (AP) — About half of Americans believe former President Donald Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitolshows a new survey.
The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll notes that 48% of adult Americans say the former Republican president should be charged with his role in a crime, while 31% say he should not be charged. Another 20% say they don’t know enough to form an opinion. 58 percent say Trump bears a large or fairly large responsibility for what happened that day.
The poll was conducted after five public hearings by the House Inquiry Committee on Jan. 6, which sought to paint Trump’s potential criminal guilt in the events leading up to a deadly riot. But it was taped ahead of Tuesday’s surprise hearing with former Trump White House adviser Cassidy Hutchinson. Her explosive testimony provided the most compelling evidence yet that the former president could be linked to a federal crime, experts say.
Views on Trump’s criminal liability are predictably collapsing along party lines, with 86% of Democrats but only 10% of Republicans saying Trump should be charged with a crime. Among Republicans, 68% say he shouldn’t be impeached and 21% say they don’t know. Still, the fact that nearly half the country believes he should be prosecuted is a notable position for the former president, pointing to the difficulties he may face if he runs for the White House again in 2024.
For Ella Metze, a South Carolina Democrat, Trump’s guilt was clear from the start when he urged his supporters to march to the Capitol on the morning of January 6 and “fight like hell.”
“It was meant to provoke violence because he kept encouraging it,” the 86-year-old told The Associated Press. “When it happened, I looked at everything and just thought, why doesn’t someone stop this? Why doesn’t he stop that?”
Chris Schloemer, a Texas independent, agreed that Trump is responsible for inciting crowds with his baseless allegations of voter fraud. But the 61-year-old doesn’t blame Trump alone.
Schloemer feels Republican in Congress I also have a stake in what happened that day: “I feel like people were afraid of Donald Trump, especially Republican politicians, and that’s why they wouldn’t rein him in, and I think that just has him.” encouraged.”
And he’s not alone. While views about Trump’s role have not changed since December, Americans are now a little more likely than they were then to say that Congressional Republicans were largely responsible for the events of January 6th.
46 percent now say so, up slightly from 41 percent in December. Another 21% say GOP lawmakers had some responsibility, and 30% say they were not responsible. The change in the proportion that says Republicans hold a lot of responsibility in Congress was primarily driven by Democrats and independents.
Ulysses Bryant, a Florida Democrat, said that while he always believed Trump and the rioters should be charged with a crime, he was unaware of the involvement of Republicans in Congress until he began following the hearings.
Nearly 6 in 10 Americans – 56% – say they have followed the news about the congressional hearings. A smaller but still significant proportion – 42% – say they watched or listened.
The nine-member panel, consisting of seven Democrats and two RepublicansHe has worked around the clock for the past year investigating the connection between Trump and his allies and the violence and chaos that ensued on the Capitol. The public hearing phase of their investigation is designed to showcase all of this investigative work to the American public in order to create a historical record of what happened.
75% of Democrats and 42% of Republicans say they followed news about the hearings. Also, more Democrats than Republicans said they tuned in, 58% to 27%. The first of the public hearings, which began in early June, received high ratings from television viewers, although subsequent hearings received more modest ratings.
Kathlyn Keller, a retired investment banker from San Francisco, is one of the GOP voters who attended the hearings and still believes Trump bears no responsibility for that day’s events.
The 83-year-old believes only those who brought guns into the Capitol or entered the building and caused damage should be charged. Trump “under no circumstances should be charged with anything,” she told the AP.
Nonetheless, the committee plans to continue its congressional investigation and bring new evidence to its many viewers in the coming weeks, including the most important one: Attorney General Merrick Garland. Regardless of public opinion about Trump’s likely criminal involvement, lawmakers continue to face a harsh reality: while they can investigate January 6 and issue subpoenas to gather information, only the Justice Department can file criminal charges.
However, in recent weeks there have been clear signs that the Justice Department appears to be escalating its probe into pro-Trump efforts to overthrow the 2020 presidential election. Federal agents confiscated the cell phone on Wednesday of Trump attorney John Eastman, who was the architect behind a plan to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to reject the Electoral College findings.
Authorities searched the home in Virginia last week by Jeffrey Clark, who was known in the Justice Department for defending Trump’s false allegations of voter fraud. Agents also served subpoenas on Republican Party leaders from Arizona, Nevada and Georgia, three states that sided with Democrat Joe Biden and where Trump allies created lists of “alternative voters.” intended to undermine the vote. And Republicans in two other states – Michigan and Pennsylvania – announced they had been questioned by the FBI.
The survey of 1,053 adults was conducted June 23-27 using a sample from NORC’s AmeriSpeak Probability-Based Panel, which is intended to be representative of the US population. The sampling error margin is plus or minus 4 percentage points for all respondents.
AP writer Hannah Fingerhut contributed to this report.