A new Politico/Morning Consult poll reveals that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s favorability among Democrats and independents has slipped considerably. According to the poll, 24 percent of Democrats rate Mueller and his investigation into Russian interference unfavorably. 33 percent of independents said they now view Mueller negatively. 36 percent of all registered voters are also seeing Mueller unfavorably, the highest the poll has reported over the last 11 months. "Back then, 23 percent of all voters said they viewed Mueller negatively," Politico observed.
Mueller's favorability among Republicans also took a significant hit, in what is likely an indication that President Donald Trump's continuous attacks against the special counsel's probe are working. A record 53 percent of Republicans say they now view Mueller unfavorably.
"Robert Mueller’s disapproval rating is at its highest point since Morning Consult and Politico began tracking the Special Counsel,” said Tyler Sinclair, Morning Consult’s managing director. “A key driver of this movement appears to be Republicans. Today, 53 percent of Republicans have an unfavorable impression of Robert Mueller, compared to just 27 percent who said the same in July 2017."
Opinions on the special counsel's investigation do vary:
- 40 percent of voters said the investigation has been handled unfairly. In February, this number was at 34 percent.
- 38 percent of voters said the investigation has been handled fairly. This number is unchanged from February.
Mueller's favorable ratings remain high among Democrats, however, with 50 percent of those surveyed saying they approve of his job performance.
But Mueller's disapproval ratings do not mean the president has walked away unscathed. According to the poll:
- 48 percent of those surveyed believe Trump has attempted to impede or obstruct the Russia investigation. In February, this number was at 44 percent.
- 79 percent of Democrats believe Trump is trying to impede or obstruct the Russia investigation. These results are nearly the exact opposite on the Republican side, with 70 percent of the GOP saying the president isn't meddling in the investigation.
- 59 percent of those surveyed say they oppose the idea of Trump issuing a self-pardon. 20 percent of those surveyed say the president should pardon himself, while 21 percent remain undecided on the matter.
- 34 percent of Republicans believe Trump should issue a self-pardon. The same number of Republicans also said he should not pardon himself.
- 13 percent of Democrats believe Trump should issue a self-pardon, compared to 77 percent who say he should not.
- 15 percent of independents believe Trump should pardon himself, while 63 percent believe he should not.
Perhaps the most sobering number from the survey comes from the Americans who say they have never heard of Robert Mueller at all. Thirty-two percent of all voters, and 40 percent of independents, said they either had no opinion of Mueller or had never heard of him.
The POLITICO/Morning Consult poll was conducted June 7-10 and surveyed 1,994 registered voters. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
The poll comes as the president has ramped up his attacks against Mueller in recent weeks.
Shortly before he departed for the Group of 7 summit and then on to Singapore for his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the president said his busy schedule would keep him from "talking about the Russian Witch Hunt Hoax for a while!”
I am heading for Canada and the G-7 for talks that will mostly center on the long time unfair trade practiced again… https://t.co/t0NEZZTIpf— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1528456964.0
The president earlier railed against his predecessor, calling for the Justice Department to launch an investigation. He also made a jab at James Comey, the former FBI director.
The Obama Administration is now accused of trying to give Iran secret access to the financial system of the United… https://t.co/bcC8xiuXxQ— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1528384521.0
Last week, Trump asserted that he has the right to pardon himself and once again stressed his belief that Mueller's investigation is “unconstitutional.”
“As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong? In the meantime, the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!” the president wrote on Twitter.
As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that… https://t.co/pB6MquREjZ— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1528115725.0
“The appointment of the Special Counsel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!” he wrote not too long afterward. “Despite that, we play the game because I, unlike the Democrats, have done nothing wrong!”
The appointment of the Special Counsel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL! Despite that, we play the game because I, unlik… https://t.co/lv4QCq6QMx— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1528120900.0
The president’s statements left Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House Press Secretary, with plenty to answer for, and questions about the president’s pardoning powers dominated that day's press briefing. Sanders insisted that the president "hasn't done anything wrong," adding that he does not believe he "is above the law."
Sanders’ defense of the president came on the heels of an interview his attorney, Rudy Giuliani gave The Huffington Post, in which he claimed that Trump hypothetically could have shot former FBI director James Comey to end the Russia investigation and not face prosecution for it while in office.
Trump’s presidential power, said Giuliani, is such that “in no case can he be subpoenaed or indicted.”
“I don’t know how you can indict while he’s in office. No matter what it is,” he added.
Giuliani noted that if the president had shot James Comey instead of firing him––as he did in May 2017––Trump would face impeachment rather than prosecution.
“If he shot James Comey, he’d be impeached the next day,” Giuliani said. “Impeach him, and then you can do whatever you want to do to him.”
Giuliani later claimed, in an interview with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week,” that Trump “probably does” have the power to pardon himself should he be found guilty of obstructing justice.
“He has no intention of pardoning himself,” said Giuliani. But it is a “really interesting constitutional argument: ‘Can the president pardon himself?’”