Majority of Americans believe Trump did something illegal: POLL

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(NEW YORK) — With former President Donald Trump now formally charged on criminal charges, a majority of Americans (53%) believe he intentionally did something illegal, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll.

An additional 11% say he acted wrongly but not intentionally. Only 20% believe Trump did not do anything wrong, and 16% say they don’t know, per the ABC News/Ipsos poll conducted using Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel.

As part of the Tuesday charges against the former president, Manhattan prosecutors alleged that Trump engaged in a “scheme” to boost his election chances during the 2016 presidential race through a string of hush money payments made by others to boost his campaign, and then “repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records” to conceal that criminal conduct.

A “statement of facts” paired with the 34-count indictment alleges that Trump discussed the scheme while he was in the Oval Office and made reimbursement payments to his lawyer for a year while in office.

Trump pleaded not guilty to all 34 felony counts and has long denied any wrongdoing.

Democrats are largely convinced of Trump’s culpability, with 87% saying he intentionally did something illegal, and a majority of independents (57%) agree.

Of note, the former president is enjoying weaker-than-usual support from his own partisans with only a plurality of Republicans (45%) thinking Trump did nothing wrong, and the rest of the party split among the belief he intentionally did something illegal (19%), he was wrong but it was unintentional (18%) or they simply do not know (17%).

ABC News/Ipsos asked nearly identical questions of the American public in polling conducted last week immediately following the historic indictment and once again after the charges were made public and Trump was formally arraigned.

Between the weeks, some modest but clear trends have emerged.

The announcement of formal charges has nudged public opinion slightly against Trump, particularly among independent voters. As of April 1, exactly half of the public said the charges against Trump were either very or somewhat serious, and 36% said they were not. Now, after the indictment has been unsealed and the public has heard Trump’s condemnation of the investigation, 52% find the charges very or somewhat serious, and 39% deem the charges not too serious or not serious at all.

But either way, more Americans are making up their minds — while 14% of the public did not know how they felt about the severity of the charges as of April 1, that figure has shrunk to 8%.

Independents had an 11-point point shift in their views of the severity of the views, the polling showed. Last week, 43% of independents found the charges very or somewhat serious. This group, a critical voting bloc for the once-again presidential candidate, has swung against him, as 54% now say the same.

More Americans believe this week that Trump should have been charged with a crime, with 50% saying he should have been, 33% saying he should not, and 17% not knowing. Roughly the same percentages say that the charges are politically motivated, with 50% saying they are, 36% saying they aren’t, and 13% not knowing.

Slightly more Americans (48%) also believe Trump should suspend his bid for the White House, compared to the 43% who suggested so in the last ABC News/Ipsos poll. Again, independents were most likely to shift on this question, going from 41% saying he should suspend his campaign on April 1 to 52% now.

Views of Trump overall have taken a hit too, with only 25% thinking favorably of him, down 10 points since right before the last presidential election. In comparison, President Joe Biden’s favorability rating currently stands at 34%, according to the poll.

In a speech at his Mar-a-Lago estate Tuesday night, Trump claimed the “fake case” was brought “only to interfere with the upcoming 2024 election” and said it should be “dropped immediately.”

Joe Tacopina, a Trump attorney, said the indictment “shows that the rule of law died in this country.”

“While everyone is not above the law, no one’s below it either,” Tacopina said. “And if this man’s name was not Donald J. Trump, there is no scenario we’d all be here today.”

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in a press conference claimed Trump and his associates engaged in a “catch-and-kill scheme.”

“These are felony crimes in New York state, no matter who you are,” Bragg said. “We cannot and will not normalize serious criminal conduct.

This ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted using Ipsos Public Affairs’ KnowledgePanel® April 6-7, 2023, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 566 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 4.4 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 26-25-40 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents. See the poll’s topline results and details on the methodology here.

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