Most Americans support the special counsel investigation of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, but doubt it will lead to charges against President Trump, a new IBD/TIPP Poll shows.
Yet, while they support the special counsel investigation, they also say another special counsel needs to be appointed to investigate whether the Justice Department and FBI improperly surveilled the Trump campaign during and after the 2016 presidential campaign.
Among the more than two-thirds of our 902 poll respondents who said they were following the special counsel investigation "closely," 56% said they disagreed that Special Counsel Robert Mueller should "never have been appointed, due to a lack of evidence that the president has actually committed a crime."
Only 41% agreed with that statement, suggesting support for the ongoing investigation.
Of the demographic groups, only "white males" (53%) and self-described "conservatives" (69%), high school graduates (56%) and Republicans (75%) were among the handful of groups that agreed the Mueller investigation should never have been launched in the first place.
Not surprisingly, 81% of Democrats say that the investigation should take place, yet another example of the widening political schism in the U.S.
But that doesn't mean that Americans believe Trump will face charges as a result of the investigation.
As the IBD/TIPP poll taken from March 22 to 29 shows, only 44% agree that the investigation will likely lead to "charges against President Trump," while 54% say they won't. Predictably, the two main parties split along partisan lines, with 71% of Democrats believing charges against Trump will be coming while just 18% of Republicans agree.
Meanwhile, Independents once again straddled the other two, with 39% saying Trump was likely to be charged. By age group, only Millennials (52%) believe charges will be filed.
It's a split that has major import for the upcoming 2018 midterm elections, since Republican incumbents will likely run in their home districts as the only thing standing between angry far-left Democrats and President Trump's impeachment, while Democrats will stand on the idea that they and only they can unseat Trump.
But it's also not entirely clear that Americans like what they've seen from the Department of Justice, FBI and special prosecutor when it comes to the investigation and its likely outcome.
Some 53% support naming a second special counsel "to investigate whether the FBI and the Department of Justice improperly surveilled the Trump campaign during 2016 presidential election." Just 42% disagree, including 37% of Democrats.
It all adds up to a disturbing loss of trust in our major national security agencies.
Respondents seem dubious about the national security bureaucracy's performance and supposed unbiased, apolitical stance on tough political questions surrounding the Russia-Trump investigation, launched in mid-2016 by Justice Department and FBI officials closely allied with President Obama and then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
In a result that underscores how much damage has been done to the U.S. government's reputation for impartiality, when asked about Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe's reported lying under oath and leaks to the media, some 47% of Americans said this was evidence of "anti-Trump bias among some senior officials within the FBI."
While the party split was again predictably partisan — with just 26% of Democrats agreeing there was anti-Trump bias, while 72% of Republicans and 51% of Independents saw bias — there is a deep undercurrent of mistrust and concern about the politicization of America's national security agencies.
The IBD/TIPP Poll asked Americans if "a group of unelected officials in Washington, referred to as the 'Deep State', is working with the U.S. news media to undermine the current administration."
Perhaps surprisingly, the share of those agreeing with that statement and those disagreeing were equal — 48% to 48%. Why is this surprising? The idea of the "Deep State" has only recently penetrated the public consciousness.
A quick Google search for January 2010 to January 2016 found 24.9 million mentions over those six years. Since the start of 2016, a bit over two years, there were 139 million mentions. Clearly, it's an idea that has become common during the Trump era.
A recent example is former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, one of those behind the Trump investigation. He was fired and now sees himself possibly facing charges for lying about the investigation into Hillary Clinton's illegal use of an unsecured private email server at her home while secretary of state. McCabe is now aggressively raising funds on "GoFundMe" for a prospective legal defense.
"In fact, a member of Congress has indicated that McCabe was accused of lying not once but four times about leaking information to the media on the Clinton investigation: lying to FBI Director James Comey, lying to the office of professional responsibility, and lying twice under oath to the inspector general," wrote Jonathan Turley, a George Washington law professor, in The Hill on Monday.
Allegations of such behavior, which include close ties between key FBI and Justice Department officials with the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, suggest to many that a group of unelected officials have made themselves all but unaccountable for their rank partisanship.
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