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Virginia Beach Republicans Remain Skeptical Of Impeachment Probe

NOEL KING, HOST:

Politico and Morning Consult conducted a poll over the weekend, and its results are really interesting, especially given what's happened this week. The polls showed about two-thirds of Democrats said they supported opening an impeachment investigation, but Republican support was in the single digits.

Now, that matches up with what NPR's Sarah McCammon found when she talked to Republican activists in Virginia Beach yesterday.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Last night, outside the Virginia Beach Republican headquarters, Darien McDaniel was standing in the parking lot wearing a black and white Make America Great Again T-shirt. He says the Ukraine matter has done nothing to change his support for President Trump.

DARIEN MCDANIEL: We're over it. We're tired of the political clown show that the Democrats have caused in D.C. They're causing it across the nation, and we're tired of it. He's doing a great job, and we're proud of him.

MCCAMMON: McDaniel, who is involved in a local Young Republicans group, said he's not concerned about Trump asking the Ukrainian president to investigate Hunter Biden.

MCDANIEL: He's an American citizen. I see nothing wrong with the American president asking a foreign leader to look into an investigation that regarded an American citizen.

MCCAMMON: Even, he says, if that citizen is the Democratic frontrunner's son.

For Katherine Schoonover (ph), a local Republican activist, the whole thing feels overblown.

KATHERINE SCHOONOVER: Well, I don't see any reason why they couldn't or shouldn't investigate the situation, but I think to jump straight to impeachment is a tad excessive. I mean, it's been a succession of efforts to impeach this man, come what may.

MCCAMMON: Schoonover points to former special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which concluded months ago, as one example of a rush by some Democrats to attack Trump.

Bruce Meyer, chairman of the Republican Professionals Network of Virginia, agrees.

BRUCE MEYER: All right. You got your report. We went through this for two years. What's your end game? And there was nothing; it was crickets. So that pretty much tells the average person, well, there must not have been enough there. He must not have - the president must not have broken the law because they didn't file impeachment charges.

MCCAMMON: But not all Republicans are dismissing the inquiry. Back in the '80s, Gary Byler was a young aide to the Reagan White House. He now runs a personal injury law firm in Virginia Beach.

GARY BYLER: We do favors for people and wait for them to get hit by cars.

MCCAMMON: I see over here on the wall you have a really big Trump sign, right? What's that from?

BYLER: I served as chairman of the Trump for President campaign for 2016 for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Congressional Districts.

MCCAMMON: Byler says Washington needed an outsider to shake things up. But to Byler, Trump's conversations with foreign leaders suggest a lack of appreciation for the limits of presidential power.

BYLER: It's been coming drip by drip, but the most recent events are by far the most alarming from my view.

MCCAMMON: Byler says he was pleased to see the Senate vote unanimously to call for the release of a whistleblower complaint.

BYLER: And I don't want to prejudge the matter. And again, the man has been elected president of the United States and in part with my assistance, so that's to be given a tremendous amount of deference. But the matter is serious enough. The charges are serious enough. What we've seen is serious enough that the United States Senate now needs to step up and take care of its constitutional duties.

MCCAMMON: Byler says he wants Congress to follow the inquiry wherever it leads, even if that's to an impeachment trial in the Senate.

Sarah McCammon, NPR News, Virginia Beach.

(SOUNDBITE OF HOMEBODY'S "RASPBERRY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.