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Majority of voters oppose potential pardons for Manafort, Cohen

After the conviction of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and the guilty plea of his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, a new national poll indicates a majority of voters would oppose pardons for both men.

Trump has reportedly considered pardoning Manafort, who was convicted last week on bank fraud charges, and Cohen, who pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations. Manafort also faces another trial on separate charges in the District of Columbia. That trial is set to begin next week.

The new Morning Consult/Politico poll, which surveyed 1,564 registered voters on Aug. 23 and Aug. 24, found that the majority of voters don’t want Trump to pardon either man. The survey came after both Manafort’s conviction and Cohen’s guilty plea.

Opinion on Paul Manafort pardon

Six in 10 voters think it would be inappropriate for Trump to issue a pardon for Manafort. A slightly higher number, 62 percent, believe it would be inappropriate for Trump to pardon his former attorney, Cohen.

Trump has routinely expressed sympathy for Manafort, tweeting Wednesday that he feels “very badly” for him. “‘Justice’ took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ – make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’ Such respect for a brave man!” the president tweeted.

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Cohen is another story. Trump has attacked Cohen in recent weeks as reports suggest Cohen may be cooperating with prosecutors in the Russia investigation.

When pollsters asked voters about Manafort and a potential pardon for him, more Republicans — 20 percent — said a pardon for him would be appropriate as compared to only 16 percent who said a pardon would be appropriate for Cohen. But a plurality of Republicans, 45 percent, said it would be inappropriate for the president to pardon Cohen, while a plurality — 42 percent — said they didn’t know or didn’t have an opinion on a Manafort pardon.

Opinion on Michael Cohen pardon

The same poll also surveyed voters about their views on impeachment. Forty-two percent said Congress should begin impeachment proceedings now as compared to the same amount who said Congress shouldn’t start impeachment proceedings.

A hefty partisan divide can be seen among opinions about impeachment. Among Democrats, 72 percent say Congress should begin the proceedings, while 82 percent of Republicans say Congress shouldn’t start impeachment proceedings.

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Among those surveyed, 45 percent said Manafort’s conviction and Cohen’s guilty plea will have no impact on their midterm vote, while 21 percent said it will have a large impact and 15 percent said it will have a small impact. Democrats, about 36 percent of them, were most likely to say it would, while 19 percent of Independents and 7 percent of Republicans said it would have an impact.

Among those who said it would have an impact, 60 percent said it would make them more likely to vote for Democrats. Half of independent voters said they would be more likely to vote for Democrats.


Chip Brownlee is a former political reporter, online content manager and webmaster at the Alabama Political Reporter. He is now a reporter at The Trace, a non-profit newsroom covering guns in America.

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