The first week of public impeachment hearings appears to have had a negative impact on Donald Trump, according to a new poll from ABC News.
More than half of Americans, or 51%, think Trump should be impeached and removed from office, according to the poll. An even broader 70% think it was wrong for Trump to push for Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.
These numbers could spell danger for Trump, as the impeachment inquiry is still in a somewhat early phase.
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Some key witnesses — including U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who is alleged to be one of the orchestrators of the plot to pressure Ukraine on investigations — have not yet testified publicly.
Here’s what else is happening in impeachment news:
- Emails obtained by the Wall Street Journal show that Sondland was keeping top Trump administration officials abreast of the plot involving Ukraine. This will cut directly into the GOP’s plan to claim that Sondland was acting on his own in trying to force the Ukrainians to investigate Trump’s rivals. Of course, that argument could also fall apart with testimony from two career foreign service officers, who say they overheard Sondland speaking directly to Trump about the plan to force the investigations.
- A super PAC that backs House Republicans plans to spend $7 million to attack Democrats for launching an impeachment inquiry into Trump, Politico reported. The American Action Network — a super PAC that was closely tied to former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) — is running the ads against Democrats in competitive districts.
- Republicans have struggled for weeks to come up with a coherent and believable defense of Trump’s extortion plot against Ukraine — with arguments falling apart as more evidence emerges. First, they attacked the process of the impeachment inquiry. Then they said Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president was “perfect.” And now that those arguments failed, the New York Times reports that Republicans will attempt a new argument in their throw-spaghetti-at-the-wall strategy: Trump did nothing wrong because Ukraine never had to announce the investigations into Trump’s rivals. As some Democratic lawmakers pointed out in last week’s impeachment hearings, attempted crimes are still crimes: If you shoot someone but they live, you are still guilty of attempted murder, and if you attempt to extort someone and fail, you are still guilty of attempted extortion. Just ask Michael Avenatti, Trump mistress Stormy Daniels’ former lawyer, who faces attempted extortion charges.
- The House Intelligence Committee over the weekend released the transcript from a closed-door deposition with Jennifer Williams, a top national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence. Williams said Trump’s attempt to force Ukraine to investigate Trump’s rivals was “inappropriate.” After the transcript of her interview was released, Trump attacked Williams on Twitter, accusing her of working with so-called “Never Trumpers” — a class of Republicans who have vowed to never vote for Trump.
- Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) — who has tried to take the pressure off of Trump by focusing on Hillary Clinton’s emails — has settled on a new way to defend Trump. In an interview on NBC News‘ “Meet the Press,” Johnson said that the government officials who have testified in the impeachment inquiry have “exposed things that didn’t need to be exposed,” and that, “This would have been far better off if we would’ve just taken care of this behind the scenes.” Johnson went on to say that “most people” in the government were “were trying to convince President Trump” to give the military aid to Ukraine. Needless to say, this argument does not help Trump.
Come back tomorrow for more impeachment news.