Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s press conference last week did little to change the way Americans view him and the investigation he led.
In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, a majority of Republicans continue to say it was unlikely that Russia interfered in the 2016 US Presidential election. Half question the veracity of the report itself and say that at least half of what was included in the report just isn’t true.
Most of the overall public believes that Russia interfered, and far more believe the report is mostly true than think at least half of it might not be true.
Three in four Republicans have adopted President Donald Trump’s accusation that the Special Counsel’s investigation was a “witch hunt.” Twice as many Republicans have an unfavorable opinion of Mueller as have a favorable one. Unlike Democrats and independents, who still would like to have Mueller testify to Congress about his investigation, Republicans are evenly divided on whether or not he should.
One thing that did change among Republicans after the press conference is their disapproval of Mueller’s performance as Special Counsel. GOP disapproval is even greater today. In an Economist/YouGov Poll conducted May 18-21, 45% of Republicans disapproved of Mueller’s performance. Now, that percentage has risen ten points. Less than a third of Republicans approve. Independent and Democratic opinion changed hardly at all after the press conference.
Partisan polarization exists on almost every question asked about President Trump. This week, 82% of Republicans approve of how the President is handling his job overall; 86% of Democrats disapprove. On the critical questions about the President’s own handling of the Mueller investigation, partisans differ greatly (with independents divided) on whether or not Trump obstructed justice, and whether or not Congress should hold hearings on this question.
There also is a chasm when it comes to whether or not President Trump should be impeached and removed from office. Seven in 10 Democrats favor impeachment; 77% of Republicans oppose it. On this question, independents are against impeachment. Overall opinion is closely divided, with a narrow plurality in opposition. Percentages on all these questions have changed little in the last two weeks.
More opposed the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998 and 1999. In an ABC News Poll conducted two months after the House voted to impeach that Democratic President (but two months before the Senate’s trial in February), Americans opposed a Clinton impeachment two to one, 64% to 32%. 57% of Republicans were in favor of impeachment, which is lower than the percentage of Democrats today who support the impeachment of President Trump.