WaPo Polls Whether Trump Should Be Charged Without Polling His Most Serious Suspected Crimes

WaPo is out with a poll showing that a slight majority of Americans believe Trump should be charged for what they claim was “his role in this incident.”

Except they polled only one of Trump’s suspected crimes, “encourag[ing] his supporters to march to the U.S. Capitol, where the riot followed.” They don’t even describe that as incitement, which is the only way it’d be a crime.

But the poll is largely meaningless because they don’t poll the more egregious crimes for which Trump might be charged. Among the things they didn’t poll, all of which are being investigated, is whether Trump should be charged if he:

  • Raised funds by making claims about election results he knew to be false
  • Badgered Brad Raffensperger to alter enough votes so he could win Georgia
  • Had a role in fraudulent electoral certificates from seven swing states, some of which were submitted to the Archives
  • Entered into an agreement, either directly or through someone like Roger Stone, with the militias that directed the assault at the Capitol
  • Made a request of Mike Pence he knew to be illegal and, when Pence refused, sicced his mob on Pence, threatening the Vice President’s life
  • Deliberately limited law enforcement and National Guard response at the Capitol
  • Dangled pardons (one provided, in Steve Bannon’s case) to get others to help sow the Big Lie
  • Aided and abetted assaults on cops

It is mildly interesting that WaPo found a majority of the country believes Trump should be prosecuted for something that, as described, is probably not a crime. It would be far more interesting to see polling on whether Trump should be prosecuted for any of the potentially far graver crimes there is evidence he committed.

55 replies
  1. Rugger9 says:

    Just like the courtier press to bury the real lede. Ye gods.

    This will doubtless be followed by more ‘real American’ articles derived from Waffle House interviews to ‘prove’ no one cares what Individual-1 tried to do. After that, the courtier press will be shocked (shocked!) to discover that bad voting choices were made without any acknowledgement of their own key contributions.

    • Rugger9 says:

      While we’re at it, how about Jared’s 2 billion bikkies from the ME which looks an awful lot like a quid pro quo. Especially if Hunter Biden’s laptop makes an appearance.

  2. ernesto1581 says:

    agree, agree.
    and thanks for the clear, bulleted bill of putative particulars. among [many] other things here.

    Limerick. Christ on a bicycle, the last time I spent any time there was 1973. I dearly hope it has sweetened up in the intervening fifty years…

  3. PieIsDamnGood says:

    Wow! WaPo has found another way to formulate the generic ballot question. Good job guys!

    • bmaz says:

      Yes. This is a poll that should never have been run. Vacuously polling on hollow shells of things that your average polled person really knows nothing about is ludicrous.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Is it just me, or is the Post sliding precipitously into pablum (or perhaps “Darkness”)?

  4. P J Evans says:

    I’ve gotten a couple of surveys this week on CA politics (today’s had questions re abortion, due to that leak). It’s interesting to see the results of the questions only Rs got – they’re really down the rabbit hole, believing that J6 was justified.

    • Rugger9 says:

      If you want a laugh, look at the ‘Real Republican’ poll I got in the mail. FWIW, long ago and far away I was indeed registered as GOP before they started changing into the GQP starting with Reagan (even if Q-Anon didn’t exist yet). However, I’ve been D since 1984 but the GQP keeps sending me surveys.

      No wonder RoJo fits in so well there, it’s idiotic on many levels. RoJo made news this week by saying the COVID vaccine gives you AIDS.

  5. Randy Baker says:

    I would note substantial evidence Trump committed a bunch of crimes prior to the 2020 election. For example, some people might think “Person 1,” on whose behalf Michael Cohen was convicted of a felony campaign finance violation might merit prosecution. I guess that would simply be petty– it was just a little felony.

      • Randy Baker says:

        I thought the s/l was 5 years for federal felonies. Trump was writing checks to Cohen in the white house and Biden took that job less than 5 years later.

        • bmaz says:

          Yes five years. And, you are right, the last check I can find is dated August 1, 2017, so, I guess, that could still technically be charged in the next 86 days. There is zero chance it will be.

          • Randy Baker says:

            Yes, it was just a little felony, and little felonies are to be charged against little guys, like Cohen. Big guys, like Trump, aren’t supposed to be charged with little felonies.

            • Sandwichman says:

              You’re such a spoilsport, Randy. What’s more important — charging Trump for some petty infraction that happened long ago or protecting The Institutions from accusations that they are being politicized?

          • civil says:

            bmaz, would you say a bit about why you assess there’s “zero chance it will be”? If there were similar evidence (e.g., copies of checks reimbursing an illegal campaign contribution, failure to disclose liability in 2017 as required on OGE 278e + signed certification that the disclosure was complete and correct) for someone other than Trump, would your conclusion be the same?

          • Charles Wolf says:

            I think the statute should be tolled for the time the thing was unarrestable b/c he was in office.

            • Randy Baker says:

              I don’t see what the statute of limitations has to do with it. It hasn’t run. If DOJ doesn’t charge him, it’s because they don’t want to. They got Michael, the little fish. That appears to be how they operate, when it comes to crimes involving the rich and powerful– if white.

              • bmaz says:

                Apparently you do not whatsoever. Are you saying DOJ, which has SOL calculators, have known about the issue all this time, and are magically now going to charge Trump on this? And you are not necessarily correct even about the SOL, although that could, potentially, be arguable in an abstract sense. be

                By the way, if you really have a connection to Cohen, please disclose it. If you do not, don’t act like you do while commenting here.

  6. Old Antarctic Explorer says:

    A Grand Jury has been seated in Fulton County, GA to hear evidence concerning Trump’s seeking more votes from Raffensperger.

    The clock is ticking…

  7. BobCon says:

    One possibility is they’re trying to set up some kind of baseline for future polling as more evidence comes out, but it’s dumb to publish it now.

    It would be like publishing the results of a favorability survey for a new Apple product months before it launched and the ad campaign even started. Odds are only true Apple fans would know about it and most respondants are just responding in general to the Apple brand.

  8. OldTulsaDude says:

    Is it even possible to have “free press” in a capitalistic system? It appears that our free press has committed suicide by capital with each choosing its target audience to whom they present easily-digested “facts”. To hell with country; show me the money!

    • bmaz says:

      Um, do you think you get it in a “non-capitalistic” society? Ask Russia and China how that is working out.

      • Yargelsnogger says:

        He said capitalist “system” not society. Perhaps a better way to frame it would be “is it possible to have a responsible and informative press that operates as a capitalist enterprise?” I don’t think it is crazy to wonder if journalism would operate better as a some sort of non-profit/non-taxed endeavor supported by regulation in some way.

        There doesn’t seem to be a reason we couldn’t structure the information environment in a way that actually promotes the primary value of a free press – to maintain an informed citizenry.

        • Charles Wolf says:

          There is no functioning “system” and there isn’t enough time left for us to repair the media… or anything else. Quite the opposite is true, with CO2 emissions setting records every year, methane bubbling up from the formerly frozen tundra, and wars raging in who knows how many countries.
          World populations will soon begin to severely decline as a result of humans’ bad habits.
          The lights will go off and governments everywhere will evaporate.
          Quality of civil life will take a total dump except in a very few, very small isolated places.

      • OldTulsaDude says:

        Perhaps I was unclear. When profits are the only motivation, there is no reason for media to do anything other than promote rather than report.

        • BobCon says:

          A regular reminder that seeing the faults of the current media through the lens of money is silly.

          Far too many liberals think “in it for the money” is the ultimate putdown when it completely misses what is happening.

          The press is constantly screwing up its reporting AND screwing up money making opportunities. If CNN was a profit maximizing operation they wouldn’t have Wolf Blitzer on the air longer than the time span between the London Blitz and Watergate.

          Money is one piece of the equation, but there is far more than that. Modern journalism stinks because the people in charge — Sulzberger, Khemlani, Murdoch and the rest stink and are willing to forego countless millions to keep it bad.

            • bmaz says:

              I love Margaret Sullivan, but it is a chicken poop cut out to blame “the media”. Maybe the party against all this could have stood up all these years and done more to control the demographics and vote. The Dems did none of that and let the GOP run roughshod over them and citizens.

              Please stop whining about the media being the primary culprits. Give “the media” a better feed, or shut up. The Dems seem incapable. And, yes, the high holy Pelosi stands front and center.

              • Valley girl says:

                I was not whining about the media being the primary culprits. I posted an article that I thought was interesting. Do you have an example of me “whining about the media”?

                As for your last two sentences, I totally agree. And that has been my view for a long long time. Gee… I remember when EOH got accused of being a misogynist by a moderator here for criticizing Pelosi. And I responded here at EW, at the time, by saying that I didn’t see any evidence whatsoever that EOH was a misogynist, and more over that I agreed with what EOH had said about Pelosi.

                So you can fuck right off.

      • Max404 says:

        Sometimes you guys are amazingly provincial. It is possible in a free and capitalistic society to have a responsible and effective press.

        In Germany, for example, we have 2 well funded public networks, ARD and ZDF, with local operations all over as well as national redaction, staffs of competent reporters all over the world, original investigative content, cultural and educational programming, the works. The 8 pm news is THE source for information for a huge number of people, I’ve read that it gets up to 80% of the share. Private networks like RTL don’t even bother with news.

        Plus in-depth talk shows with regular appearances of in power and out of power politicians and experts of all kinds, nearly every day. “Hart aber fair”, “Anne Will”, “Markus Lanz”, “Maischberger die Woche” just to name a few.

        This culture of serious publicly funded independent journalism raises the bar for private journalism. So we have top investigative journalism from the Süddeutsche Zeitung and Der Spiegel regularly blowing the top off stories like the Panama Papers.

        We pay for it with taxes.

        Wake up over there.

        • bmaz says:

          Eh, we do not pay for it with taxes, and are not going to, so that is basically a non-starter. Except for governmental websites and press releases, of course.

              • Phaedruses says:

                A reality since Reagan’s time. …

                The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is an American publicly funded non-profit corporation, created in 1967 to promote and help support public broadcasting. The corporation’s mission is to ensure universal access to non-commercial, high-quality content and telecommunications services. It does so by distributing more than 70 percent of its funding to more than 1,400 locally owned public radio and television stations. The CPB’s annual budget is composed almost entirely of an annual appropriation from Congress plus interest on those funds. 95% of the corporation’s appropriation goes directly to content development, community services, and other local station and system needs.

                Until the radical right rode to DC on Reagan’s coattails with an agenda and plan. The first part of the plan was to gain control over the media, by commercializing it, both in consolidation into corporate conglomerates and undermining the public funding by forcing the public funded to get private donations (mostly through corporate donations, while cutting their public funding deeper and deeper as a part of the plan cut taxes.

                Now much of their funding comes from endowments from the rich and corporations.

                That allowed them to frame the message and make sure that they got the lions share of media face time.

                And here we are.

                • Rayne says:

                  Your citation — without any link to support it, btw — about CPB skews the truth. CPB is wholly-funded by Congress but public broadcasting in the US is **NOT** wholly-funded by Congress.

                  From Congressional Research Service (via everyCRSreport.com):

                  The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) receives its funding through federal appropriations; overall, about 15% of public television and 10% of radio broadcasting funding comes from the federal appropriations that CPB distributes. …

                  To the best of my knowledge these percentages have not increased since the last update to the CRS report. It isn’t just the wealthy (like Joan Kroc’s bequest) which funds public broadcasting but local donors across the country responding to fundraising requests.

                  So long as the American public continues to believe that taxpayer monies provide the majority of support for public broadcasting, they’ll continue to believe right-wing bullshit claiming taxpayers provide too much support. Stop spreading misinfo which distorts the truth about public broadcasting funding.

                  There are other nonprofits providing news on a daily basis and no one in this thread has given them much attention — like ProPublica, or Associated Press which an overwhelming number of Americans don’t realize is a non fucking profit supported by local news outlets.

              • Max404 says:

                What ever happened to that ole American “Can-do” attitude ? Of course the other key difference is that in Germany – and most of continental western Europe, there are strict limits on private financing of political campaigns. I am not saying there is no corruption, just that corruption is pushed into the “illegal” space more effectively, so that when discovered, can be effectively prosecuted. And that happens all the time.

                The story of the ZDF is interesting. At first there was only the ARD, founded after the war. Then Adenauer got annoyed because he was being criticized too much by them, he thought. So he made a law creating a “second” national network, die Zweite – ZDF. Which became even more critical. These publicly funded companies are set up with statutes that insure independence. It really can work. The long term benefit is a much more informed and critical population. Not that there are no right-wing-nut-jobs here, there are, but there are also many well-informed people as well, and everybody knows that even the Christian Democrats are far more progressive than most parts of the US Democratic party. And then add to that, free education through university. Nobody starts life saddled with crippling debt just to get an education.

                I have lived on both sides of the pond, and more and more I am struck by how the “exceptionalism” disease makes otherwise intelligent Americans fail to see how much better things could be if they set their minds to it.

                • Ruthie says:

                  It’s not that some, at least, don’t see the problem, it’s that the obstacles are greater than you suggest. Conservatives have waged a successful campaign to defund the semi-public media we do have, namely NPR and PBS – at least since the 80s (I only reached voting age in 84). Any change would require push back – a coordinated messaging campaign from Democrats/left of center interests making the counter argument that, to paraphrase Paul Krugman, truth in fact does have a well-known liberal bias.

                  In other words, good luck with that.

                  • Ginevra diBenci says:

                    Also remember the demise of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, which opened the door (or, if you are old enough to remember, ripped it off its hinges and left it banging impotently in the incipient wind) to Morton Downey, Jr’s smoke-fogged TV show and then Rush Limbaugh, and apres lui le deluge: the extinction of Top-40 from AM radio, vanquished by ever more reactionary and Dominionist talkers.

                    And unto this lineage Tucker Carlson was born, reborn, and re-reborn, finally assuming his position at the center of the galaxy, where he apparently resides to this day.

  9. Peterr says:

    In looking at the other parts of this survey, it is interesting to note that when GOP voters were asked if they thought the GOP should follow Trump’s leadership or move in a different direction, the results were basically the same today as they were in January 2021, a week after the assault on the Capitol. (60/34 vs 57/35, MOE +/- 3.5%)

    That’s some tasty kool-aid being served to the MAGA crowds.

  10. Franktoo says:

    I’m not sure the evidence exists to support any of these indictments, but I would sure like to read posts summarizing the evidence against Trump in each of these cases. One challenge, as I see it, is that the “truth” for Trump is whatever is in his best interest at the time. He was surrounded by “yes men” who told him what he wanted to hear or failed to confront the problem, even when others were telling him the truth. It is simple to understand why such a man shouldn’t be president and should have been impeached/convicted, but harder to understand which of these crimes he could be convicted of in a criminal court. I’m skeptical that any of the January 6 defendants are going to lead us to Trump.

  11. S.Chepaitis says:

    I have been very interested in Dr.Wheeler’s crime no.6, “Deliberately limited law enforcement and National Guard response at the capitol”. If this could be proved it would practically wipe out any way to deny that J6 was an attempted coup.
    I haven’t heard what the evidence is that supports this and would appreciate knowing what is known about it.

    • P J Evans says:

      DC National Guard was under the direct command of the president. He didn’t call them up when things went bad. Or even before, though he’d told people to show up. There was a big delay in getting any Guard units called, even though VA and MD were ready and waiting.

    • emptywheel says:

      I actually think that’s the hardest one on the list to tie to a crime. But it is one Jan6 Committee is investigating closely. They have proven he did nothing affirmative to respond to the attack. That violates his duty as President but probably is best understood as evidence for the larger conspiracy, not a crime unto itself.

      • Peterr says:

        The J6 committee’s interest in the DC guard mess is likely tied as much to potential changes to the law as it is to potential criminal behavior. I think it is highly probable that whatever the committee describes happened will result in someone (perhaps the committee) proposing more direct authority for the DC mayor and/or the Speaker of the House/Pres ProTem of the Senate in calling out the Guard.

  12. DoubleDeens says:

    I also take issue with the graphic design of the poll’s results, assigning “anti Trump” tallies the color of brown skin and “pro Trump” tallies the color of Caucasian skin. Design literacy is a critical feature and the WaPo has failed here.

  13. Rayne says:

    Knock it off, Timmer. Seriously. bmaz is correct because the First Amendment has been weaponized by the right-wing; unlike EU our Constitution pointedly says, “Congress shall make no law…prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…

    In spite of public support for public broadcasting, expressed by members of Congress,

    … It is also important to note that many congressional policymakers defend the federal role of funding public broadcasting. They contend that it provides news and information to large segments of the population that seek to understand complex policy issues in depth, and in particular for children’s television broadcasting, has a significant and positive impact on early learning and education for children. …

    The right-wing will argue that taxpayers shouldn’t fund speech which is leftist and offensive to their ideology and the left will argue no taxpayer money should be spent on fascist crap even if content is both-sides’d.

    Now let’s move out of this ziggurat, and stop antagonizing moderators.

  14. Thomas says:

    Thank you for listing the wire fraud and racketeering offenses that have enabled Trump to amass $120 million with false claims of a stolen election.
    I actually think this would bring us poetic justice, because the liar would have to prove his claim or go to jail for 25 years.

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