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Most people think President Trump's critics are trying to use Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation to delegitimize the 2016 elections, the latest IBD/TIPP Poll finds. And a plurality thinks the FBI investigation into Trump's alleged ties to Russia was meant to rein him in.

These findings come in the wake of a New York Times story Friday that claimed the FBI had opened a counterintelligence probe into Trump several months into his presidency

The probe began, the Times says, days after Trump fired then FBI Director James Comey and was meant to determine whether Trump was a Russian agent.

Trump blasted the report, and said that the question of his being a Russian agent is "the most insulting thing I've ever been asked."

Politicized Investigation

The IBD/TIPP Poll found that 51% agree that "the president's opponents are using the ongoing special counsel investigation into alleged Trump-Russia collusion as a way to delegitimize the 2016 election."

That includes most independents (52%), as well as the vast majority of Republicans (70%). The poll found that almost a third of Democrats (31%) agree with that statement.

Overall, 44% disagreed with that statement.

"Americans can see through this charade and recognize the 'open secret' — that the real goal of the opposition and the media is to delegitimize the outcome of the 2016 election and remove Trump from office one way or the other," said Raghavan Mayur, president of TechnoMetrica who directed the poll.

Trying To Rein In Trump

In addition, a plurality believe that the special counsel investigation has less to do with finding Trump campaign connections with Russia, and more to do with reining Trump in as president.

When asked if "the Department of Justice launched the special counsel investigation to rein in President Trump," 48% agreed, and 45% disagreed.

Among Republicans, the split is 55% agree, 35% disagree. Among independents, it's 47%/47%. Among Democrats, 41% say the probe was meant to rein Trump in, with 52% disagreeing.

'No' To Impeachment Talk

The IBD/TIPP Poll also found that the public so far is not supportive of the Democrats' clamoring to impeach Trump.  The poll found that 65% say any talk of impeaching Trump at this point is premature. Just 33% say it's not too early.

Fully 91% of Republicans say impeachment talk is premature, as do 67% of independents. Even among Democrats, 38% say talk of impeachment isn't appropriate at this point.

"Democrats and many in the media never accepted the outcome of the 2016 election," Mayur said. "From day one, Americans have been bombarded by non-stop vitriolic coverage filled mostly with speculations and insinuations. Satiated by the extreme media coverage, Americans are worn out. "

Trump Approval Rating Climbs

The poll also found Trump's approval rating climbed three points to 42%, with 54% saying they disapprove of the job he's doing.

Trump's net favorability rating climbed a point in January, going from -13 to -12. (Trump's net approval has never been in positive territory.) The new poll shows 42% view Trump favorably, compared with 40% last month. And 54% have an unfavorable view of Trump, compared with 53% last month.

Trump also gained 3%, to 44, in the exclusive IBD/TIPP Presidential Leadership Index. This index combines results on several poll questions regarding leadership, favorability and job approval. Trump's average Leadership Index since taking office has been 41.6.

Other Poll Findings

  • 41% say they are satisfied with the direction of the country, compared with 58% who are dissatisfied. That's down from last month, when 44% said they were satisfied, and 55% said they weren't.

  • 26% are satisfied with country when it comes to morals and ethics; 71% are dissatisfied.

  • 40% of the public think Trump is providing strong leadership for the country (up two points from last month), compared with 48% who say it's weak (unchanged from a month ago). Eleven percent fall in the middle camp.
  • The IBD/TIPP Financial Stress Index ticked down 1.1% this month, to 51.8. (The lower the index the better.) The index has averaged 52.4 under Trump. By way of comparison, it averaged 57.7 in President Obama's last term in office.

  • 44% give Trump top marks for his handling of the economy.
  • 51% say the economy is improving, down two points from last month. Forty-four percent say it's not improving, which is up three points from December.

Methodology: The January IBD/TIPP Poll was conducted from January 1 to January 12. It includes responses from 903 adults nationwide, who were asked questions by live interviewers on phones. The poll's margin of error is +/-3.3 percentage points. (Toplines from the poll will be posted here later this week.)

The IBD/TIPP Poll has been credited as being the most accurate poll in the past four presidential elections, and was one of only two that correctly predicted the outcome of the November 2016 presidential election.

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