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Friday, February 12, 1999 Published at 14:21 GMT

US public just wants it over

A US public, long opposed to impeachment, wants the trial over

BBC News' Robin Aitken reports on how the affair has damaged the Republicans
With the outcome of the trial against President Clinton known for weeks, the scandal-weary US public simply wants it to end.

In an ABC News poll, eight in 10 Americans said they are sick of the trial.

The trial of the president
The Pew Centre for People and the Press has found that only one in three Americans are following the trial closely.

The lack of interest has remained steady for several months, even during key events in the impeachment process such as the passage of the articles of impeachment in the House of Representatives, said survey director Gregory Flemming.

[ image: Mr Clinton's job approval rating has gone from good to even better]
Mr Clinton's job approval rating has gone from good to even better

However, while the public wants the trial to end, they do not want the president to escape unpunished.

The most recent Washington Post polling data show that 60% support censure.

If the Senate votes to acquit the president, CNN found, 57% of those responding wanted their senators to vote for a censure resolution.

However, CNN found varying levels of support depending on the specific language of the motion.

If the censure motion stated that the president committed crimes in the Lewinsky matter, support dropped off to 51%. But if the censure motion condemns his behaviour but stopped short of saying the president committed crimes, only 44% of those polled supported such a measure.

President and Republicans pay

[ image:  ]
President Clinton's approval ratings continue to run counter to the impeachment process. As the impeachment proceedings progressed, his approval ratings have soared.

In the CNN poll, Mr Clinton's approval rating stands at 70%, higher than former President Ronald Reagan, who set records for popularity.

But neither the president nor his Republican opponents have escaped from the proceedings unscathed.

ABC News reported that 69% of Americans believe that President Clinton is not honest and trustworthy, but 60% of those polled say the Republicans in Congress aren't, either.

In the same poll, 60% disapprove of how the Republicans have handled the trial and think the party is out of touch with average Americans.

The CNN poll shows that the public approval for the Senate's handling of the trial has dropped dramatically. In January, the public was evenly split on their approval of the Senate's stewardship of the trial, but in the most recent poll, 61% disapproved of how senators had conducted it.

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