Voters in Missouri and Iowa speak to Chris McGreal about impeachment – have the hearings changed their views?Clark Lyles has spent much of the Donald Trump impeachment hearings in front of his television, and he has come to two conclusions.Lyles, a 60 year-old African American from Sedalia, Missouri, reckons the president is guilty of everything he is accused of – and probably a whole lot more. But Lyles also thinks that while it would be gratifying to see the Senate remove Trump from office, it would be better if the voters did it.“You can’t have all this dirt around you, and people around you going to prison, and you not be dirty yourself. I hope to see him get put out of office. But I think it’s better if the voters remove him. If the voters remove him, it’s more of a statement on what he did. Otherwise it’s just politics,” he said. “I don’t think Congress should impeach him out of office. It’s to let him know that he needs restraints put on him until the election.”But Lyles is not confident either will happen because he doesn’t think enough people are paying attention.“A lot of my friends are telling me, you’re watching this too much. I’m watching this because I want to see what Trump’s up to. He scares me with this love for Putin and Kim Jong-un. They think if it’s not affecting them directly , they don’t care. It is affecting them but they don’t see it,” he said.Across middle America, the impeachment hearings have been met with anger, uncertainty and indifference. Opinion polls show a narrow majority in favour of impeachment but they also make clear that the hearings are not changing a lot of views about the president. Overwhelmingly, Democrats support impeachment and Republicans do not. Independents are split.In northern Iowa, Holly Rasmussen, who voted for Obama twice and then Trump in 2016, has only recently started taking note of the hearings after a report on a morning television news show caught her interest.“I think it’s just political right now, because I have not paid close attention. But if I watched it as faithfully as a lot of people do I’d go pretty crazy. I thought Real Housewives has drama. My goodness!” said the spa owner in the small Iowa city of Cresco.Rasmussen said she thinks the president is “picked on”, although she reckons that sometimes he brings that on himself with his confrontational manner. But she doesn’t know what to make of the charges against him in part because when she has tried to disentangle what is going on in Congress all she sees is accusation and counter-accusation.“I was watching it the other day and the Republicans were constantly saying things were out of order. It just seemed like they were bickering,” she said. So far Rasmussen has not heard anything that has diminished her support for the president.Pat Murray, a retired factory worker who works part time at a radiator repair shop in Cresco, is a Democrat who is still waiting to see how the evidence shakes out.“Someone’s lying about this impeachment thing. Either the Democrats are really screwed up and they’ve gone the wrong way or Trump did what he did and the Republicans are trying to muddy waters and say that it’s not that big a deal,” he said.Murray said the defining issue for him is whether Trump in any way endangered the country and Americans.“If the president of the United States put his agenda ahead of me or any other American for one second he broke his oath, then he should be impeached. It’s not an argument of ‘It wasn’t that bad’,” he said.Murray said he is trying to work out the truth by watching conservative Fox News and liberal MSNBC.“It’s really kind of hilarious because it’s two different stories. One cannot be telling the truth. It’s just obvious. I don’t always know which one. I would side with the Democrats because I’m one of them but by the same token we’re not always telling the truth either,” he said.Still, while Murray said the truth should come out, he’s concerned at what cost.“This impeachment’s done nothing but divide us more. People who were dug in are really dug in now,” he said.That’s certainly true of Dale Morris, who describes himself as a Trump supporter but not a Republican, in Johnson county, Kansas, part of a district that swung away from the president in last year’s midterm congressional elections.“It’s all manufactured. You don’t think every president calls in favors? You can bet your life Democrats have done this plenty,” he said. “It’s really a waste of time which harms Nancy Pelosi and Congress more than it hurts the president. There’s so many things Congress should be dealing with, and instead they’re having a kangaroo court.”Murray too is worried that the hearings have further eroded the authority of Congress but for different reasons.“My thought was at least we have checks and balances in our government. And now we’re going through this impeachment, Trump’s going to get this thing thrown upside down by muddying the waters. I’m worried that the checks and balances are gone,” he said.

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