One of Barack Obama’s top advisers as president says voters have a ‘chilling’ lack of interest in the impeachment case, which he blames on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s ‘cynical calculation’.
David Axelrod, Mr Obama’s former chief strategist, met with a focus group of Democratic voters in Chicago on Friday in which he says impeachment “didn’t come up” until more than an hour into the discussion.
When it did, the voters said they were “ready to move on” because the outcome of the Senate trial - in which Mr Trump’s team began his defence on Saturday - was a foregone conclusion.
Speaking to CNN he said: “I was in a focus group this morning for the Institute for Politics here at the University of Chicago with some Chicago Democratic voters, and it was chilling to hear them talk about this.
“Because impeachment didn’t come up, no one volunteered it, for 80 minutes into the focus group, and we’re right in the middle of the trial.
"When it came up, they said, you know, it's terrible what he did, the case has been proven, but we know how it's going to turn out, so we're not really that interested, we're ready to move on."
Mr Axelrod said Mr McConnell and the president were banking on that strategy working, describing it as: “They can take the hit here, buffalo their way through this and the public will move on. It’s a cynical calculation, but it may not be the wrong calculation."
Some 20 Republicans would need to vote with all Democrats to convict the president and remove him from office, a highly unlikely outcome.
House impeachment managers wrapped up their third day of opening arguments in the impeachment trial on Friday, which has drawn millions of viewers.
But the peak audience of 11 million pales in comparison to the 20 million who tuned in to watch former FBI director James Comey testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2017, while 16 million watched Mr Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen testify before the House Oversight Committee in 2018.