One in three Republican voters (32%) in a new Pew national poll say that Donald Trump “probably” or “definitely” did something illegal either while running for president or during his first three years in office.
Which, well, wow. Right? That’s a big number – especially when you consider how Republicans have, almost unanimously, fallen into line behind Trump, no matter what he says or does in office.
That same Pew poll shows that just one in 10 (12%) of those same Republicans thought that Trump should be removed from office by the Senate impeachment trial. By contrast, 86% of Republicans believed Trump should not be removed.
But wait – there’s more. Among those Republicans who said Trump has “probably” or “definitely” done something illegal in either the 2016 campaign or the White House, 59% believe he should not be removed from office.
The least damning way to interpret that data is to conclude that these Republicans who believe that Trump did something illegal don’t think that illegality has anything to do with his actions in regard to Ukraine – which is the subject of the Senate impeachment trial.
The other interpretation is this: Yes, these Republicans think Trump has done something illegal during his political career or as president. But they simply don’t believe that breaking the law should be punished with removal from office. Likely because Trump is on the same team as them.
The Point: If party tribalism trumps – ahem – a commitment to following the rules, well, we are in a very bad place.