Amid signs that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference may be near its conclusion, a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds that trust in Mueller has eroded and half of Americans now agree with President Trump’s contention that he has been the victim of a “witch hunt.”
Support for the House of Representatives to seriously consider impeaching the president has dropped since last October by 10 percentage points, to 28 percent.
Despite that, the survey shows a nation that remains skeptical of Trump’s honesty and deeply divided by his leadership. A 52 percent majority say they have little or no trust in the president’s denials that his 2016 campaign colluded with Moscow in the election that put him in the Oval Office.
But that number does reflect an improvement from previous polls. One year ago, 57 percent had little or no trust in his denials; in December, 59 percent did.
What’s more, Trump’s relentless attacks on Mueller and his inquiry have taken a toll on the special counsel’s credibility. Now, 28 percent say they have a lot of trust in the former FBI director’s investigation to be fair and accurate. That’s the lowest level to date, and down five points since December.
In comparison, 30 percent express a lot of trust in Trump’s denials, the highest to date.
Mueller has indicted 34 people, including Russian intelligence operatives and some of Trump’s closest aides and advisers. The indictments have detailed the eagerness of the Trump campaign to benefit from a sophisticated Russian effort to influence the 2016 election, but have not accused the president’s aides of participating in that operation. Last week, Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was sentenced to a total of 7.5 years in federal prison for financial crimes filed by the special counsel’s office.
The poll’s findings set the stage for a ferocious partisan battle when Mueller submits his report to Attorney General William Barr, expected soon. The president’s cascade of criticism of those pursuing him has succeeded in fortifying his support and raising questions about his investigators.
Trump tweets about Mueller
That campaign continued this weekend.
“What the Democrats have in trying to steal a Presidential Election, first at the ‘ballot box’ and then, after that failed, with the ‘Insurance Policy,’ is the biggest Scandal in the history of our Country!” Trump declared in a tweet he posted Sunday night.
On Friday, Trump tweeted that “there should be no” report from Mueller, who was appointed in May 2017 to investigate how Moscow tried to influence the presidential election and whether Team Trump cooperated with them.
“This was an illegal & conflicted investigation in search of a crime,” Trump wrote Sunday, adding in a follow-up tweet, “…..THIS SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN TO A PRESIDENT AGAIN!”
Fifty percent say they agree with Trump’s assertion that the special counsel’s investigation is a “witch hunt” and that he has been subjected to more investigations than previous presidents because of politics; 47 percent disagree. Just 3 percent don’t have an opinion.
There is, unsurprisingly, a stark partisan divide on that question: 86 percent of Republicans but just 14 percent of Democrats say Trump is the victim of a “witch hunt.” Among independents, 54 percent say he is; 42 percent say he isn’t.
Still, the president’s success in persuading fully half of the electorate that he’s been subjected to unprecedented scrutiny is notable, says David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk Political Research Center.
“Even among people who said they had ‘some’ trust in the Mueller investigation, half agreed with President Trump’s witch-hunt allegation,” he said.
Story cited here.