The impeachment that has so divided lawmakers and the public has also split congressional aides.
The latest Capitol Insiders Survey, conducted by CQ Roll Call as President Donald Trump’s lawyers made their case to the Senate, found Democratic staffers in favor of removing Trump from office by a margin of 86 percent to 1 percent, with 13 percent unsure.
Republican aides were even more pronounced in their feelings, with 93 percent of respondents opposed to Trump’s removal, 5 percent in favor and 2 percent unsure.
CQ Roll Call emailed the survey to staffers on Jan. 27, and they had through Jan. 29 to fill out the poll. Of the 148 who did, 86 were Democrats, 60 were Republicans and two were independents.
Some Republican staffers said they would like to see more evidence presented, with 31 percent saying the Senate should call witnesses and subpoena documents and 22 percent saying they believed Trump had done something wrong in his dealings with Ukraine.
Democrats have accused him of abusing his power by asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter and of obstructing Congress by refusing to cooperate with the Democrats investigating him. The Democratic aides were united in saying that the Senate should call witnesses and that Trump had done something wrong.
But the GOP respondents were much more confident than the Democrats that the impeachment trial will redound to the Republicans’ benefit in this election year. Nearly 7 in 10 Republican respondents said the trial would benefit their party politically, while only 1 in 7 see it benefiting the Democrats. The rest were unsure.
By contrast, more than a third of the Democratic aides said the impeachment trial would benefit neither party, while a quarter said it would benefit the Democrats and 1 in 10 said it would benefit the Republicans.
The belief that Trump is now politically beneficial to the Republican Party marks a huge shift in the Republican aides’ thinking. Polled in advance of the 2016 election, fewer than a third of the GOP respondents said they planned to vote for Trump and more than 8 in 10 predicted his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, would win.
But now, most Republican staffers say they foresee Trump helping their bosses win reelection. More than 9 in 10 said they thought the representatives and senators they work for should either remain as aligned as they are now with Trump or align with him more closely in order to boost the party’s chances of gaining House and Senate seats. Only 7 percent said GOP representatives and senators should distance themselves from Trump.
Meanwhile, more than 9 in 10 of the Republican staffers say Trump will win reelection, with nearly as many of the staffers supporting his renomination.
The Democratic aides also think their candidate will win the presidency in November, but they are less confident than the Republicans. Sixty-three percent expect the Democrat to win, with 31 percent predicting Trump will.