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Tennessee Voters React To Public Impeachment Hearings

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

OK. Let's hear now from Americans, in their own words, about the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Sergio Martínez-Beltrán of member station WPLN has been asking people in Tennessee for their thoughts.

SERGIO MARTÍNEZ-BELTRÁN, BYLINE: Tennessee is one of the states where voters strongly approve of the job President Trump is doing. Anthony Wiggins has been streaming all of the hearings. The 43-year-old owns a security company in Murfreesboro, a more conservative part of Middle Tennessee. Wiggins says the testimony probably won't sway his opinion.

ANTHONY WIGGINS: Right now, I would still vote for Donald Trump again. God knows I wouldn't want to be on trial for hearsay.

MARTÍNEZ-BELTRÁN: Wiggins is among the 65% of Americans who have already made up their minds regarding impeachment. That's according to a new NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist poll.

James Lively is a Republican who also lives in Murfreesboro. He sees impeachment as an effort by Democrats to influence the 2020 election.

JAMES LIVELY: Because they know the young, ignorant voters - excuse me - are - don't know any better, and they're easily persuaded.

MARTÍNEZ-BELTRÁN: But in Nashville, one of the more liberal parts of Tennessee, plenty of voters support impeachment.

Josephine Johnson is a musician who says she doesn't need to watch the hearings.

JOSEPHINE JOHNSON: I mean, I feel like it's already been proven, right? I - it's the formality and the due process that comes now.

MARTÍNEZ-BELTRÁN: But not all of Trump's opponents are on the same page. That's because even if the House impeaches Trump, the Senate is unlikely to remove him from office.

Twenty-one-year-old student Zylan Smith says people should turn their focus toward the 2020 election.

ZYLAN SMITH: Some of the effort that we put into trying to get him impeached and trying to break down what is actually wrong he did - that should be effort that we should be putting into seeing these candidates - like, who is really looking out for us? Who should we be trying to endorse to get next so we can get him out?

MARTÍNEZ-BELTRÁN: For others, the current debate over impeachment further reduces their faith in government.

Sean Michele is a musician who's visiting from Arkansas. He doesn't vote because he says he doesn't believe what most politicians say.

SEAN MICHELE: I just think the sides are stupid. Republicans are stupid. Democrats are stupid. We're all stupid. And it's just pointless, in my opinion.

MARTÍNEZ-BELTRÁN: So far, there's little sign that three days of hearings has changed anyone's minds.

For NPR News, I'm Sergio Martínez-Beltrán in Nashville. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sergio Martinez-Beltran
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