Former president Donald Trump waves to the members of the media after his final flight on Air Force 1 at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Manuel Balce Ceneta

Former president Donald Trump waves to the members of the media after his final flight on Air Force 1 at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Manuel Balce Ceneta

Poll suggests Americans split over decision to impeach Trump as Senate trial begins

49 per cent of respondents supported impeachment

WASHINGTON — When it comes to impeaching Donald Trump, a new poll suggests Americans are just as divided as the United States Senate.

The online Léger poll, conducted last month for the Association for Canadian Studies, found 49 per cent of U.S. respondents supported impeachment.

Forty per cent said they opposed it, while 11 per cent said they didn’t know.

A similar split exists in the Senate, where the former president will stand trial beginning today on a single count of inciting an insurrection.

The week-long trial isn’t currently expected to end in conviction, which requires two-thirds of the 100 senators to vote in favour.

Online polls cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

Trump was impeached Jan. 13, days after an angry mob of his supporters laid siege to Capitol Hill while lawmakers were certifying President Joe Biden’s election win.

He’s the first U.S. president ever to be impeached twice.

Trump won’t be there in person, but his lawyers are set to argue that the trial is unconstitutional because he’s no longer the commander-in-chief.

They would be wrong, prominent conservative lawyer Chuck Cooper wrote in the Wall Street Journal — an opinion Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democrats’ leader in the Senate, felt obliged to mention Monday.

“For the past few weeks, the political right has been searching for a safe harbour, a way to oppose the conviction of Donald Trump without passing judgment on his conduct,” Schumer said.

“The truth is, no such safe harbour exists.”

Conviction in the Senate would be followed by a second vote on whether to prohibit Trump from seeking the presidency again — a constitutional wrinkle that applies only to “former officers,” thereby undermining Trump’s own defence strategy, Cooper wrote.

“If the former president is convicted,” Schumer said, “we will proceed to a vote on whether he is qualified to enjoy any office of honour, trust or profit under the United States.”

Of the U.S. respondents to the poll, 54 per cent said they would like to see Trump banned from a 2024 run, while 39 per cent said he should be allowed to seek the job again.

The Léger poll also asked Canadians a separate set of questions that suggest they’re ready to turn the page on the Trump era.

Some 61 per cent of the poll’s 1,559 Canadian respondents said they expect Canada-U.S. relations to improve under Biden, compared with 15 per cent who anticipate more tension.

Another 13 per cent said they expect no change and 11 per cent didn’t know.

The poll was conducted during the final week of January, which was after Biden signed an executive order on his first day in the White House cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline expansion.

Of those respondents who anticipated worsening relations, 38 per cent were in Alberta and 25 per cent in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Meanwhile, only 43 per cent of U.S. respondents who were asked the same question expected relations to improve, compared to 28 per cent who said they expect a downturn.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 9, 2021.

Donald Trump

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