Most Americans Favor an Impeachment Inquiry—But Are Wary of Removing Trump, Polls Find

A majority of Americans support the House Democratic impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump, a sharp pivot in opinion from the first two and a half years of his presidency, but are also wary about removing him from office, according to three recent polls.

The surveys were published Tuesday by the Washington Post-Schar, Quinnipiac and NBC/Wall Street Journal. Over Trump’s time in office, survey after survey had showed the American public opposed to impeachment proceedings, even as he remained deeply unpopular.

The impeachment inquiry is an investigation that might lead to a vote by the House to impeach the president. The Senate would then conduct a trial and would require a two-thirds majority vote in the Republican-controlled chamber to remove him from office.

Tuesday’s polls were released after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dropped her resistance to an impeachment inquiry and announced an investigation into his conduct on Sept. 24. The White House on Tuesday announced it would not cooperate with the inquiry, compelling Democrats to subpoena witnesses.

The Washington Post-Schar poll found that 58% of Americans approve of an impeachment inquiry, while 38% disapprove. The approval includes 28% of Republicans. In a July survey, just 37% backed an inquiry.

Quinnipiac poll found that 53% approve, while 43% disapprove — but just 9% of Republicans said they approve. In July, just 32% overall supported proceedings.

And an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 55% of Americans either support an inquiry or believe there’s already enough evidence to impeach and remove the president, while 39% say there’s insufficient evidence for Congress to hold an inquiry.

Both the Quinnipiac and NBC/Wall Street Journal polls found that by a narrow margin, a plurality of Americans say Trump should not be removed from office.

The Quinnipiac poll found Trump’s job approval overall at 40% with 54% disapproval. But among Republicans, his rating was a towering 88%, a find that may have little resonance in the House but will be on the minds of GOP senators if they face a vote on whether to remove him.

“The country remains closely divided on whether to impeach and remove President Trump from office, and his base remains granite solid,” said Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy.

Though enshrined in the Constitution, impeachment is rare in U.S. history. Trump is the fourth president to face an impeachment inquiry. Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were impeached by the House and both were acquitted by the Senate. Richard Nixon resigned before the House could vote on his impeachment.

The latest surveys show a remarkable turn in public opinion after long periods of skepticism toward a move to impeach the president. Democratic leaders, closely watching the polls, were eager not to be seen as overreaching until September, when the transcript of Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was released.

In that call, Trump asked Zelenskiy to investigate a Democratic rival, Joe Biden, and his son Hunter. Biden, as vice president, worked with allies for the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was considered corrupt. Hunter Biden sat on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company that had once been investigated by that prosecutor. There’s no evidence that either Biden did anything wrong.

The Washington Post-Schar poll suggest that Americans don’t believe Democrats are currently abusing their power against a president of the opposite party.

Majorities said Democrats in Congress were acting to uphold their constitutional duties, making a necessary stand against Trump’s actions, and a majority said they were not overreacting.

More must-read stories from Fortune:

A running list of questions on the impeachment inquiry, answered
—White House claims Trump impeachment inquiry violates procedure
5 lessons history has taught us about impeachment
What is CrowdStrike, the company Trump mentioned during his Ukraine call?
—How the circumstances around Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry differ from Bill Clinton’s
—How whistleblowers have taken down titans of American business
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