Majority of Americans back Trump's impeachment, finds new poll

Andrew Buncombe

Half of Americans support the impeachment of Donald Trump, as the president’s unpopularity reaches a fresh high, according to a new poll.

In findings that will represent more bad news for the White House, the poll found 49 per cent of those asked believed Congress should begin impeachment proceedings, while 46 per cent were opposed to such an idea.

The Washington Post-ABC News poll also found Mr Trump’s disapproval rating had hit a new level – a full 60 per cent. At the same time, it found a clear majority of Americans supported special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign, an investigation the president has repeated denounced as a “witch hunt”.

The findings of the poll come at a crucial point in Mr Trump’s presidency. There is widespread speculation among some in the US media that Mr Mueller could publish the findings of his 14-month inquiry at any time.

Meanwhile, the country is little more than 60 days away from the midterms elections that could have a huge impact on Mr Trump’s future. Most political analysts believe the Democrats are more likely to retake control of the House of Representatives, then the Republicans are to hold it.

It is in the house, the lower chamber of congress, that any impeachment proceeding would begin, as it did when Republicans sought to impeach Bill Clinton in 1998.

While the Democratic leadership has to this point steered clear of raising the issue of impeachment, concerned it could turn off moderate Republicans and independents who would see it as a step too far, it is likely that pressure to begin such proceedings would intensify if the Democrats took control.

In recent days, there have been a series of reports suggesting the White House is scrambling to strengthen its legal resources amid fears Mr Trump has failed to appreciate the danger he faces if Democrats retake control of the house and trigger impeachment proceedings. One supporter said officials feared that “winter is coming”.

With Mr Trump announcing this week that White House counsel Don McGahn will leave once the Senate confirms Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, reports suggest the outgoing lawyer wants Emmet Flood to replace him. Mr Flood who worked previously for George W Bush, and, crucially, for Mr Clinton during his 1998 impeachment hearings, was hired by the White House this spring.

Mr Trump’s lead lawyer, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani told Time that Mr Flood would be an excellent choice and the two men had an excellent relationship. “From the very beginning they sort of hit if off,” he said.

Reports suggest that Mr Trump is failing to adequately prepare a legal war room ahead of several months that could bring very bad news for the president. The president, both in public and reportedly in private, believes that special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into alleged collusion with Russia will clear him.

On Friday, a business partner of Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian indicted by Mr Mueller, pleaded guilty to failing to register as a lobbyist for a pro-Kremlin political party in Ukraine and agreed to cooperate with Mr Mueller’s probe.

Samuel Patten, 47, also admitted to soliciting a US citizen to act as a straw purchaser to buy tickets to the inauguration of President Donald Trump for a Ukrainian oligarch, circumventing a law restricting such purchases by foreigners.

The plea agreement raises the prospect Patten will be called to testify against Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chief who faces a second trial in Washington next month, or Mr Kilimnik, who was indicted for witness tampering in the same case.

The charge Patten pleaded guilty to – violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (Fara) by not disclosing lobbying work for Ukrainian politicians – is similar to one of the core allegations against Manafort at his upcoming trial. He has denied the charges against him.

As Mr Mueller’s investigation inches closer to the White House, experts say that at this point, it may be difficult for Mr Trump to attract top quality legal help – given the challenges he faces.

“It’s always difficult to bring on top talent in the context of possible impeachment proceedings,” Bradley Moss, a Washington-based national security lawyer told The Independent.

“Mr Trump, however, has a less-than-stellar reputation when it comes to listening to his lawyers’ advice or keeping quiet on matters that pose significant legal jeopardy.”

He added: “Most of the top quality attorneys who a president would want on his staff at this point are either already representing other officials caught up in the Mueller probe or simply are not willing to put their reputations on the line for Mr Trump.”