Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump AFP

Donald Trump's first criminal trial, the first for a U.S. President, is dominating the public conversation as the process gets underway.

While the country follows the trial, most Americans have formed an opinion about whether Trump committed a felony by allegedly paying hush money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.

A new AP-NORC poll showed that only about one third of respondents believe Trump did something illegal in the case. Most are also skeptical that he will get an impartial treatment by the judge, prosecutors or jury.

However, half of Americans would consider Trump unfit to serve as president if he is indeed convicted of falsifying business documents to cover up the payments.

Figures vary drastically depending on the respondents' party affiliation. More than four in five Democrats would deem him unfit in this case, but only 15% of Republicans gave the same answer.

A significant data point is that 47% of Independents would consider him unfit to serve if convicted, compared to 22% who said they would still deem him fit.

The businessman turned politician is facing 34 counts on criminal charges for falsifying business records. This was allegedly done as part of a scheme to bury damaging stories that he feared could hurt his 2016 presidential campaign.

But despite the final ruling, many respondents don't believe the former president will get a fair procedure. About three in ten respondents said that any of the prosecutors bringing the charges are treating Trump fairly, while only two in ten are extremely confident that the judges and jurors will be fair and impartial.

"While a New York jury will decide whether to convict Trump of felony charges, public opinion of the trial proceedings could hurt him politically," AP said.

"Trump has made the prosecutions against him a centerpiece of his campaign and argued without evidence that Biden, a Democrat, engineered the cases. That argument helped him consolidate GOP support during the Republican primary, but a conviction might influence how many Americans — including independent voters and people long skeptical of Trump — perceive his candidacy."

The scenario is different when it comes to other cases Trump is also set to face. About half of respondents said Trump did something illegal by taking classified documents to his Florida home. A similar proportion saying the same thing regarding his attempt to interfere in Georgia's vote count in the 2020 presidential election, as well as his effort to overturn the 2020 elections.

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