Republican approval of the Attorney General has fallen in the past year

The firing (or resignation, depending on your point of view) of Attorney General Jeff Sessions was a good decision – if you are a Republican. The former Alabama Senator had been popular with members of his own party: just over a year ago, a majority of Republicans held a favorable view of Sessions. But, in last weekend’s Economist/YouGov Poll, conducted after Sessions’ last day as Attorney General, just 28% of Republicans viewed Sessions favorably. The public overall, then and now, held unfavorable views of Sessions.

What changed, among other things, was the President’s expressed dissatisfaction with Sessions, which he expressed more and more over time. Republicans now overwhelmingly (75% to 9%) agree with the President’s decision to let Sessions go.

As for the event that may have soured the President on Sessions from the very beginning, the former Attorney General’s decision to recuse himself from oversight of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, Republicans side with the President. Half disagree with Sessions’ decision to recuse himself, although one in four Republicans agree he made the right choice.

Almost from the start, Republicans have rejected the Mueller investigation. They have an unfavorable opinion of Mueller himself: 56% of Republicans are unfavorable, while only 15% are favorable. They don’t accept the basis for the investigation, as only one in four Republicans think Russian interference in the election definitely or probably occurred.

As for Sessions replacement, many hadn’t heard much about the President’s choice for an acting Attorney General. Less than a third say they have heard “a lot” about his naming Matthew Whitaker as the acting Attorney General, who would do the job until a permanent replacement is confirmed by the Senate. Republicans were less likely than Democrats to say they had heard a lot, but those who had are overwhelmingly favorable of Whitaker’s appointment. And when asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the appointment, Republicans overwhelmingly agreed.

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