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Impeachment Trial Is Source Of Skepticism, Concern In Political Hot Spot


After Day 4 of former President Trump's impeachment trial, we wanted to check in on a place that's been at the center of the political storm over the last few months, the state of Georgia. There was what felt like a never-ending presidential race in that state that was mired in false claims of election fraud, followed by more campaigning and the runoff election for two U.S. Senate seats in January and now impeachment all over again. Emma Hurt, reporter for WABE in Atlanta, has been talking to people in that city. Emma, thanks so much for being with us.

EMMA HURT, BYLINE: Thank you for having me, Scott.

SIMON: Are people in Georgia just exhausted?

HURT: (Laughter) Some of them definitely are. I spoke to one Atlantan, Charlie Black. He works in software. And he's a Trump supporter, and he's really frustrated by the time the trial is taking away from other Senate business, really.

CHARLIE BLACK: Yeah. You got to wonder who sets the priority and why they're focused on this, especially in Georgia, in a way, because we had the special runoff for the Senate races. And Joe Biden came to Georgia, like, the day before or so, and they specifically made a promise that, hey, we were going to pass the stimulus, this $2,000 stimulus, which, of course, has taken a backseat to this impeachment.

HURT: And, you know, he's saying he'd rather than be working on COVID relief to help the local businesses that he sees that are still struggling. Of course, as we know, Senate leadership says they're doing both and that they'll have a new coronavirus relief package soon.

SIMON: There's also, of course, the argument that's been made that since - so far, as we know - Senate Democrats haven't been able to round up enough votes to convict Trump, what's the point of having an impeachment trial now?

HURT: Yeah, Black made that point, too, and I heard it from someone else who called herself torn about the trial because of that argument. Her name is Mariana Cubillo, and she works for a consulate in Atlanta. And she said she leans Democratic.

MARIANA CUBILLO: I can't help but think if it's actually going to make a difference or if it's only going to further divide people. And from what I've been reading of - more of like the Republican side, some people are worried that this is only going to kind of gas the fire a little bit more.

HURT: But even though she said it might feel like this is beating a dead horse almost, she does think that the trial is important in showing that words and actions have consequences.

CUBILLO: I guess personally, for me, I'm Latina. And so kind of seeing it more from a person of color standpoint, it - I think it's necessary to hold people's actions and words accountable for what they've done, whether it was intentional or not, especially if it's anyone who's in power or has some type of voice in that - in a global arena.

HURT: She did tell me also she's just waiting for this to be over, and she's tired of hearing Trump's name.

SIMON: I want to pick up on what Ms. Cubillo just told you, that she's worried this might only fan partisan flames. Anyone else mention that?

HURT: Yeah, Sonya Anderson did. She's an Atlantan who's been recording the trial every day while she's at work and then watching it in the evening. She's a licensed mental health counselor, and she said she feels really strongly that the trial is necessary because of the loss of life in particular at the insurrection. But she knows that a lot of other people don't agree, and she's struggling with that.

SONYA ANDERSON: I just don't understand what people don't understand about what happened. I don't. It's painful. It's concerning. It's hurtful. We're the United States of America, and it feels as if we're the divided states of America. It breaks my heart. It really does, because there are so much good in all of us, more good than challenged and than bad.

HURT: To her, there really needs to be some kind of consequence, even if it's just a trial and not a conviction. And for that same reason, she's also glad to see that one of our local DAs here this past week opened a criminal investigation into the president's pressuring of Georgia election officials to overturn the November election. As we know, there was a dramatic example of that in that leaked phone call, which is part of the House impeachment managers' case against Trump.

SIMON: Emma Hurt, reporter with WABE in Atlanta, thanks so much for being with us.

HURT: You're welcome, Scott. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.