Americans are divided along party lines over whether former President Donald Trump should be criminally charged for his role in last year’s Capitol riot, a poll released Thursday shows.
A whopping 86% of Democrats say the 45th president should face charges, while just 4% say he should not and 10% say they don’t know enough to have an opinion, the Associated Press/NORC survey found.
Among Republicans, by contrast, 68% think Trump should not be charged, just 10% say he should, and 21% say they don’t know enough to have an opinion.
Independent voters are more evenly split on the question, with 36% backing criminal charges for Trump, 25% opposing and 38% saying they don’t know.
Overall, 48% of Americans say Trump should face criminal liability, while 31% believe he should not and 20% say they don’t know.
The poll was conducted after the House select committee held five hearings this month examining the events leading up to and occurring on Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump supporters disrupted Congress’ certification of the Electoral College vote for President Biden.
But the survey was taken before the committee’s hurriedly scheduled Tuesday hearing in which Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testified under oath.
One of Hutchinson’s most shocking claims was that the former president grabbed the steering wheel of his SUV and shouted “I’m the f—ing president” on Jan. 6 after Secret Service agents told him he could not join his supporters at the Capitol.
The AP-NORC poll found that Democrats are paying more attention to the hearings than Republicans by a large margin.
Three-quarters (75%) of Democrats say they have been keeping track of the House committee’s hearings, as opposed to 42% of Republicans and independents.
Overall, 56% of Americans say they have followed news about the hearings, compared to 43% who say they haven’t.
However, more than half of Americans (57%) say “no” when asked if they have watched or listened to the hearings, a number that includes 72% of Republicans, 66% of independents and just 41% of Democrats.
Democrats make up the primary audience for the hearings, with 58% of party members in the survey saying they had watched or listened to the live coverage, compared to 32% of independents and 27% of Republicans.
When asked to assign levels of blame for the riot, 61% say the rioters bear “a great deal” of responsibility. Trump is next to receive a “great deal” of blame with 49%, followed by Republicans in Congress (26%) and Democrats in Congress (12%)
Only 12% of Republicans say Trump should get “a great deal” of blame, compared to 85% of Democrats and 37% of independents.
Kathlyn Keller, a retired investment banker from San Francisco, is among those who believe Trump should not face any charges for Jan. 6.
Keller, 83, told the Associated Press that those who carried weapons to the Capitol grounds, forced their way into the building or caused damage inside should be charged.
Trump “absolutely shouldn’t be charged with anything,” she told the AP.
But for Ella Metze, an 86-year-old Democrat in South Carolina, Trump’s culpability was clear from the moment he rallied his supporters with a speech on the Ellipse near the White House urging them to “fight like hell.”
“It was meant to provoke violence because he kept encouraging them,” she told the AP. “As it happened, I watched it all and I just thought why doesn’t somebody stop this? Why doesn’t he stop this?”
The poll surveyed 1,053 Americans between June 23 and 27.
It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
With Post wires