Americans overwhelmingly believe the Obama administration "improperly surveilled" Donald Trump's presidential campaign, and a majority say they would like to see a special prosecutor appointed to look into possible misconduct by the FBI and Department of Justice in spying on Trump, the latest IBD/TIPP poll shows.
One fact emerges from the poll of 900 people conducted from Jan. 25 to Feb. 2: The public doesn't necessarily buy into the Democratic narrative that the Trump campaign "colluded" with Russia to tamper with the 2016 presidential election.
The poll also suggests that many Americans think the roots of the allegations made against Trump extend beyond the two major party campaigns in the last presidential election and deep into the Obama era's intelligence and law enforcement bureaucracies, and may involve active political bias on the part of supposedly nonpartisan employees of both the Justice Department and FBI.
In the IBD/TIPP survey of public opinion, we asked respondents "How closely are you following news stories about the role played by the FBI and the Department of Justice during the 2016 presidential election?" Of those who responded, 72% said they were following the story either "very closely" (39%) or "somewhat closely" (33%). Our responses were taken only from those who were following the story closely.
Some 55% of those said it was "likely" that the Obama administration "improperly surveilled the Trump campaign during the 2016 election." There was an obvious partisan split among the responses, with 87% of Republicans and 55% of independents saying the improper spying took place, but only 31% of Democrats.
On the question of whether a special counsel was needed to "investigate whether the FBI and the Department of Justice improperly surveilled the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election," 54% responded "yes," and 44% "no." Again, 74% of Republicans and 50% of independents wanted a special counsel appointed. But even 44% of Democrats thought it would be a good idea.
If so, a full-on investigation might be in the cards, not just of the so-called Steele dossier on Trump, which was funded by Hillary Clinton's campaign and by the Democratic National Committee, but of key members of the Obama administration, including former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former FBI Director James Comey.
We further asked Americans whether they thought "some senior career civil servants at the FBI and Department of Justice knowingly coordinated to frame the president with allegations of Russian collusion in order to cast a cloud over his presidency."
There, the readings were not as definitively strong as with the other two questions. Of those queried, 35% said yes, Justice and FBI officials coordinated their actions to frame the president for colluding with the Russians, while 60% said no. This had by far the biggest partisan split of all, with 77% of Republicans saying yes, but just 11% of Democrats and 30% of independents agreeing.
Plainly, Americans are concerned by what they've read and heard of the surveillance of the Trump campaign and would like a full investigation.
The poll's contents are troubling for those in the Democratic Party and the left-leaning media who had hoped to make a case with the American people that President Trump worked with Russian officials to win the 2016 election. The American people don't seem to believe it.
More seriously, recent revelations suggest that the Obama administration FBI and Justice Department "basically conspired with the Democratic Party, the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign to exonerate her of violations of the Espionage Act and, in the course of trying to prevent Donald Trump from becoming president, to frame him for a nonexistent crime of collusion" with the Russians, as former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova told Fox News.
Using the Hillary-funded Steele dossier on Trump, which included false and outrageous claims that couldn't be verified, the FBI and Justice Department convinced the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to spy on sometime Trump volunteer Carter Page. In doing so, they were able to spy on much of the rest of the Trump campaign, as well. However, the initial application for the surveillance in October 2016 did not mention that the source for the surveillance request was a political campaign. If it had, it might well have been rejected.
The possibility that an administration used the federal apparatus to spy on a political foe reeks to high heaven. As House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes noted last week, "The American people understand the FBI should not go to secret courts, using information that was paid for by the Democrats to open up investigations with warrants of people of the other political party." It's the stuff of banana republics and totalitarian dictatorships.
With so many Americans having questions about the Russia collusion scandal, we won't be surprised if it leads not just to an investigation of the events of late 2016, when much of the activity took place, but to the time before that — when the Obama administration, keen on protecting Hillary Clinton's presidential prospects, began to use the federal bureaucracy for what appears to be political purposes. For the record, that's against the law.
The question going forward may well become: What did President Obama know about the dossier, and when did he know it?
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