Majority of voters want Justice Roberts to allow impeachment witnesses, poll shows

A majority of registered voters say Chief Justice John Roberts should rule in favor of motions to allow new witnesses at President Trump’s impeachment trial, according to a new poll from a liberal advocacy group.

More than twice as many respondents — 57 percent to 25 percent — expressed support rather than opposition to Roberts using his authority as the Senate trial’s presiding officer to admit new testimony, according to the YouGov Blue poll conducted on behalf of the group Demand Justice.

“John Roberts clearly wants to avoid the hot seat, but the public is expecting him to ensure the impeachment trial includes witnesses and is not just a cover-up to protect Trump,” said Demand Justice Executive Director Brian Fallon. “Roberts is not going to be able to remain a potted plant during this whole trial or else it will make him complicit in Republicans’ sham proceeding.”

A spokesman for Demand Justice said the online poll drew from a demographically representative U.S. sample of more than 1,000 registered voters and was designed to mimic a randomized sample. Its margin of error is 3.8 percentage points.

The poll was conducted Jan. 24, so it’s possible opinion may have shifted, as the public has since heard in full the opening arguments from House managers and Trump’s defense team, as well as Wednesday’s question-and-answer session between the legal teams and senators. 

The poll was also taken prior to a bombshell New York Times report about a forthcoming book by former national security adviser John Bolton. The former official reportedly wrote that Trump told him last August that he wanted to continue to suspend security assistance to Ukraine until the country helped with investigations into Democrats.

The Constitution appoints the chief justice to preside over presidential impeachment trials in the Senate. The rules that govern the arrangement between the Senate and Roberts say the presiding officer “may rule” on all questions of evidence.

House impeachment managers and President Trump’s defense have sharply contrasting views of Roberts’s proper role in the fight over witnesses.

Tags Donald Trump Impeachment impeachment trial John Bolton witnesses

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