Majority of American Voters Shrug at Trump Indictment. 53 Percent Want Him Pardoned If Convicted
Even though most voters say that the case against the former president is “strong,” they don’t want to see him serving jail time
When it comes to seeing twice-impeached, twice-indicted Donald Trump in a prison uniform if he is convicted in his classified documents case, a slim majority of American voters are squeamish about the idea. Fifty-three percent of respondents to a Harvard CAPS-Harris poll said they would support a Trump pardon to maintain national unity — including 80 percent of Republicans, 30 percent of Democrats, and 48 percent of independents. And the majority of American voters believe this despite 58 percent of respondents indicating the case against Trump is “strong.”
Trump was indicted earlier this month in Florida for alleged mishandling of classified documents, including bringing highly sensitive information to his home and resort, Mar-a-Lago, where he stored some of the nation’s most closely guarded secrets in a bathroom and on a stage. According to the poll, although a plurality of voters (44 percent) said that Trump is “probably guilty” of charges and should be convicted, 30 percent believe the former president is “probably innocent” while 26 percent thinks he may be guilty but “should not have been indicted because it is too political.”
As for others accused of mishandling classified information, the “but her emails” contingent was fairly strong in the poll, demonstrating that Trump’s 2016 campaign narrative struck a chord with the American electorate. Seventy-two percent of voters stated they believe Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mishandled classified information, while 69 percent said they believe she “obstructed justice by destroying her emails rather than hand them over.” In 2019, a State Department probe found “no systemic mishandling of classified information” and “no persuasive evidence” of deliberate wrongdoing by Clinton.
Regarding President Joe Biden, Trump’s disinformation campaign against him and his son, Hunter, also appears to have taken root in voters’ minds. The majority of respondents, 55 percent, said the FBI is “not really investigating” corruption allegations against Biden while 57 percent believe Biden “took a $5 million bribe” while serving as vice president, despite no evidence of that occurring.
American voters also appear skeptical that prosecutors will see Trump convicted, with only 43 percent of respondents — including 18 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of Democrats — saying that a conviction is likely. Regardless of a conviction, though, 50 percent respondents want Trump to drop out of the 2024 race because of the charges against him.
If Trump does win his way back to the White House, legal scholars appear divided on whether or not he could pardon himself.