58% of Americans now approve of Department of Justice’s decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate Russian influence on the 2016 election
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictments of three men involved in President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign appear to given the Special Counsel’s investigation more credibility, according to the latest Economist/YouGov Poll. But the indictments have also shifted opinions about the President himself.
Nearly half the public now believes that individuals in the Trump campaign (aside from the President himself) did something improper in their dealings with Russian officials during the campaign, up six points in the last week. 45% say they did something illegal, up five points since just before the indictments.
A majority of Republicans continue to say that no one in the Trump campaign did anything improper or illegal. But there is less sureness about that. Last week, 64% of Republicans believed no member of the Trump campaign did anything improper. This week, just 51% of Republicans say that, a drop of 13 points. Very few Republicans think the President himself did anything improper or illegal; Americans overall are still evenly divided on that.
There is more confidence in the Mueller investigation now than there was a week ago. Only one in four now see it as politically motivated, down five points from the Economist/YouGov Poll conducted the weekend before the indictments. By nearly three to one, the public approves of the appointment of the Special Counsel by the Department of Justice, and Republicans now also agree.
What happens now? Nearly half (45%) think the President already has tried to influence the Mueller investigation. And proof of collusion with the Russians could have dire public opinion consequences. By 46% to 32%, Americans say they would favor impeachment proceedings should Mueller prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that there was collusion with Russian officials by the campaign.
Americans already believe that the President’s views of Russia are very different from their own. Two-thirds of Americans call Russia an unfriendly country or an enemy. Half that number think the President believes the same thing. More believe President Trump regards Russia as a friend or ally.
There are additional warning signs for the President. His approval rating in this week’s poll is just 37%, one point above his all-time low, while 54% disapprove. Only 29% say he honest and trustworthy, matching his all-time low.
Republicans remain strong in their overall support; 81% of Republicans approve of how President Trump is handling his job, and 64% say he is honest and trustworthy. But some may have been shaken. The share of Republicans who want Donald Trump to run for re-election in 2020 dropped seven points in the last week, and nearly a quarter of Republicans this week say they aren’t sure.
In addition, just one in three Americans are optimistic about the next few years with Donald Trump in the White House, matching the lowest percentage recorded this year in the Economist/YouGov Polls. Nearly half are pessimistic.