Pluralities of Americans support second Trump indictment, say charges are politically motivated: POLL
There are sharp partisan differences, according to the survey.
A plurality of Americans think that former President Donald Trump should have been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges related to his handling of classified documents, yet a near equal number say the charges are politically motivated, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll.
Trump willfully retained documents containing the nation's most sensitive intelligence after he left office, exhibited some of them on at least two occasions and then tried to obstruct the investigation into their whereabouts, prosecutors allege in the indictment. Trump has repeatedly denied any allegations of wrongdoing.
Nearly half -- 48% -- of Americans think Trump should have been charged in this case, whereas 35% think he should not have been and 17% saying they do not know, per the ABC News/Ipsos poll conducted using Ipsos' KnowledgePanel.
Not surprisingly, an overwhelming majority (86%) of self-identified Democrats believe the former president should have been charged. On the other hand, Republicans remain mostly loyal to Trump, with two in three (67%) saying the former president and current frontrunner for the Republican nomination should not have been charged. Independents are more divided, with 45% believing he should have been charged, a third saying he should not have been, and 22% saying they don't know.
Overall, a solid majority of over three in five Americans find the charges either very (42%) or somewhat serious (19%), while only 28% of the public say it's not too serious or not serious at all. One in ten say they don't know. And party splits are expectedly polarized, with about nine in 10 Democrats saying the charges are very or somewhat serious while half of Republicans find them to be not too serious or not serious at all. A majority of independents (63%) find the charges very or somewhat serious, while 38% say they are not too serious or not serious at all.
The ABC News/Ipsos survey was in the field Friday and Saturday after Trump was indicted and as a plethora of details continued to emerge.
This is the second set of indictments for Trump, who also faces criminal charges in New York City related to a civil case in state court regarding alleged hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. And these figures are strikingly similar to polling in the immediate aftermath of those charges, levied by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Trump pleaded not guilty to those charges.
The latest indictment, which was unsealed Friday, alleges that the classified documents included "defense and weapons capabilities of both the United States and foreign countries; United States nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack."
Boxes of those documents were allegedly stored in various locations around Trump's Mar-a-Lago club, including a ballroom stage and a bathroom, according to federal prosecutors. Long-time Trump associate Walt Nauta, who worked in the White House before being hired as a personal aide to Trump in 2021, was also indicted for allegedly conspiring with the former president to obstruct justice. An attorney for Nauta declined to comment when contacted by ABC News.
Trump is set to be arraigned in Miami on Tuesday.
After the charges in this second case were made public, Trump claimed his innocence on a video posted to his social media site.
"I am innocent. We will prove that very, very soundly and hopefully very quickly. Thank you very much," he said.
His campaign sent a fuller statement denouncing the Department of Justice and alleging the indictment was politically motivated.
"President Trump violated no laws and is being held to a different legal standard than other former Presidents and Vice Presidents," the Trump campaign wrote.
And at least a plurality of Americans say they do see politics behind the charges -- in fact, 47% of the public believe the charges against Trump are politically motivated. Nearly two in five (37%) say they are not, and 16% don't know. Most Republicans (80%) align with that view, with only a sliver (9%) believing the charges were not based on politics. Around one in 10 Republicans aren't sure. But the lion's share of Democrats (71%) find the charges to be not based on politics, while 16% say they were politically motivated, and 13% have yet to make up their minds.
Trump's political rivals have had mixed reaction to the news, with his former vice president, Mike Pence, asserting that while no one was above the law, he finds the indictment "troubling."
"The American people deserve to know the reasons for this unprecedented action, and we also need to hear the former president's defense. Then each of us can make our own judgment on whether this is the latest example of a Justice Department working an injustice, or otherwise," Pence said at a campaign stop in North Carolina.
Other challengers, like former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, are calling for the former president to suspend his campaign.
"This is a sad day for our country. While Donald Trump is entitled to the presumption of innocence, the ongoing criminal proceedings will be a major distraction. This reaffirms the need for Donald Trump to respect the office and end his campaign," he said in a statement to ABC News.
That division of thought is reflected within Americans, too. A plurality of the public (46%) say Trump should suspend his bid for the White House, while 38% say he should not, and 16% don't know.
As they chase the Republican nomination for president, candidates like Hutchinson and Pence, who bill themselves as constitutional conservatives, hope to make inroads with evangelical or born again Republicans, a group that comprises 42% of self-identified Republicans. This ABC News/Ipsos survey finds that Republicans who identify as evangelical or born again are actually more numerically favorable (69%) to Trump than Republicans who do not identify as evangelical or born again (61%.) And there is virtually no difference in attitudes towards the charges among the different sub-groups that comprise Republican identifiers.
While President Joe Biden's favorability stands at 31%, Trump's favorability rating has improved since his first indictment -- up from 25% then to 31% now.
Trump holds a comfortable lead in the race for the 2024 Republican nomination, according to recent polls.
METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted using Ipsos Public Affairs' KnowledgePanel® June 9-10, 2023, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 910 U.S. adults with an oversample of Republican respondents weighted to their correct proportion in the general population. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.7 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 26-25-41 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents. See the poll's topline results and details on the methodology here.
ABC News' Katherine Faulders, Ken Goldstein, Aaron Katersky, Dan Merkle and John Santucci contributed to this report.