Mueller probe’s credibility eroding with GOP voters
Six in 10 Republican voters now believe special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is unfair, a dramatic 15-point swing over the last six weeks amid escalating attacks from President Donald Trump.
A broad 61% of GOP voters say Mueller’s probe into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election is not being conducted fairly, up from just 46% who said the same in early March, according to a new Quinnipiac University survey released on Thursday.
Only one in four GOP voters, 26%, said they believe Mueller is conducting his investigation fairly, dropping from 36% over the same span. Six months ago, Republicans were essentially evenly split on whether the probe was fair.
Majorities of both Democrats, 79%, and independents, 58%, say they believe Mueller’s probe is fair.
The new numbers come about two weeks after investigators with the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, operating on information referred from Mueller’s investigation, raided the apartment of Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to seize documents related to alleged payments to silence women accusing the President of sexual affairs.
In the past, Trump has lumped the special counsel investigation and the Cohen investigation together and repeatedly complained of a “witch hunt” out to get him.
Still, a similar majority of Republican voters, 59%, believe the President should not fire Mueller. Only a quarter of them believe he should.
“If you take a look, they’re so conflicted,” President Trump said of Mueller’s team in an interview on Fox and Friends on Thursday morning. “The people that are doing the investigation, you have 13 people that are Democrats. You have Hillary Clinton people.”
Trump refused to rule out firing Mueller, a registered Republican, when asked at a press conference last week, instead calling the probe a “very, very bad thing for our country” and saying “we want to get the investigation over with.”
“I’ve taken the position, and I don’t have to take this position and maybe I’ll change, that I will not be involved with the Justice Department. I will wait until this is over,” Trump said on Fox and Friends, lamenting the alleged bias in “our Justice Department, which I try and stay away from, but at some point, I won’t.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 14-7 on Thursday to approve legislation to protect Mueller from a potential ouster, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will not bring the plan to a vote. Three in four Republicans, 74%, say they oppose such a bill.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in early April that “it would be suicide” for Trump to fire Mueller. Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, have raised the specter of impeachment if the President were to oust the special counsel.
This poll from Quinnipiac University was conducted from April 20-24 among 1,193 registered voters nationwide. The margin of error is ±6.6 percentage points among Republican voters.