Nearly half of Americans say the whistleblower should be forced to come forward publicly, poll finds

William Cummings, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump and many of his Republican supporters have demanded the name of the whistleblower whose complaint helped spark the impeachment inquiry be publicly revealed, arguing the president has a right to face his accuser. 

Nearly half of Americans agree, according to a poll from CBS News and YouGov that was released Tuesday. 

Forty-seven percent say any whistleblowers in the case should be "forced to be made public," and 53% say they should be allowed to remain anonymous. 

Whistleblower advocates say identifying the person could discourage other government officials from coming forward with their concerns about potential wrongdoing. Democrats have said unmasking the whistleblower could put the person in danger without adding any value to the proceedings since many of the allegations in the complaint have been corroborated by other witnesses. 

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The whistleblower's complaint shared concerns from other officials that Trump acted improperly by using military aid as leverage to pressure Ukraine into conducting investigations that would benefit him politically. Trump denied any wrongdoing, insisting that the aid was not tied to the investigations and that he only asked Ukraine to address corruption. 

According to Tuesday's poll, 26% agree that Trump's actions regarding Ukraine were proper, and 31% say they were improper but legal. Forty-three percent say what the president did was illegal. 

Trump and his supporters have accused congressional Democrats of coordinating with the whistleblower to smear the president.

More: Read all the transcripts from the closed-door testimony in the Trump impeachment inquiry

When asked what they think motivated the whistleblower, 39% in the CBS-YouGov poll say the person wanted to damage Trump politically, and 37% say it was to protect U.S. interests. Twenty-three percent say they plan to wait for more evidence before drawing a conclusion. 

Many of Trump's supporters, including acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, said presidents use aid as leverage all the time. Democrats argued the difference is that Trump did it for personal gain. 

Forty-two percent of respondents agree that Trump's actions in Ukraine were "the kind of thing most Presidents probably do with foreign countries," but 58% do not accept that explanation and say that what Trump did was "unusual." 

Graham is one of many congressional Republicans who have come forward to defend Trump amid the inquiry. Forty percent of Americans say GOP lawmakers should "wait to see more facts, then decide whether to defend him or criticize him." Thirty percent say they are right to defend Trump, and another 30% say they should be criticizing him. 

Fifty-three percent of Americans say they approve of opening the impeachment inquiry, and 47% disapprove. Forty-three percent say they favor impeaching Trump, and 40% say they don't think his actions rose to the level of impeachment. Seventeen percent say it is too soon to say. 

Open hearings in the impeachment inquiry are scheduled to begin  Wednesday. Though 73% say their mind is made up no matter what might come out of the hearings, 27% say they could change their mind. 

One-fifth of Americans say they plan to watch most of the hearings, and one-fifth say they don't plan to read or watch much of it. Another fifth say they plan to watch "parts," and 37% say they plan to watch or read just the highlights. 

According to the poll, 57% say the impeachment has been easy to follow, and 43% say it has been hard. 

Overall, 46% say Trump is doing a good job as president, and 54% say he is doing a bad job. Fifty-five percent say they are optimistic about the upcoming year, and 60% indicate they are happy with the country's economic outlook. 

The poll was conducted from Nov. 9-11 with a margin of error of plus or minus 1.9%. 

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump impeachment: Nearly half say whistleblower should be identified