New poll shows Republicans want Mueller to continue his probe - but many fear what he might uncover
After a significant lull in Russia investigations news in the run-up to the 2016 midterm elections, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe is back in the headlines in a big way.
President Donald Trump clearly feels the pressure of the potential looming indictments hanging over him, and with the newest revelation that Mueller believes that former Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort lied and violated the terms of his plea agreement, speculation about potential backroom deals has ramped up.
But while Trump's main insurance policy against the investigation has been a campaign to sow doubt about Mueller's integrity, new polling from Hart Research Associates shows that this plan isn't having the hoped-for effect.
An overwhelming majority of Americans — 76 percent — supports letting Mueller complete the investigation.
"Majorities of Democrats (94%), independents (78%), and Republicans (55%) say that Mueller should be allowed to complete his investigation," the Geoff Garin president of Hart Research said in a press release. (Garin, it should be noted, worked on Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign, though the poll contained a proportionate sample of Democratic and Republican voters.)
Despite majority support for the probe, 78 percent of Republicans nevertheless still said that they believed the probed is biased against Truno, a theme the president has pressed.
"Of special note in this regard is that 81% of all voters, including 62% of Republicans and 60% of those who say the Mueller investigation is biased, say that if the Mueller investigation results in additional criminal indictments of people who were part of the Trump campaign or personally close to President Trump, those indictments should be prosecuted in the courts and should not be dropped or dismissed," Garin writes.
This suggests that, while Trump has been successful to some extent in promoting his perspective on the probe, it's not clear he's actually built a strong base of support for undermining it or for ignoring its conclusions should they be harmful to him. The poll results also show that 82 percent of Republicans, and 90 percent of voters generally, hope that a report from the Mueller probe eventually becomes public — and most don't think Trump should be allowed to block it.
Many Republicans are also concerned about what Mueller's probe might uncover about the president and his allies, suggesting that the pessimistic view that nothing could shake the party's support for Trump is wrong.
"The greatest causes for concern among Republican voters would be if members of the Trump family engaged in illegal activities with the Russians prior to the 2016 campaign (46%) and if Donald Trump tried to obstruct law enforcement officials from investigating Russian interference and potential collusion by the Trump campaign during the 2016 election (45%)," said Garin.
Reflecting on the polling, conservative commentator Jennifer Rubin remarked: "If bipartisan support for Mueller is high now, imagine what it will be if he reveals more compelling evidence of financial wrongdoing, obstruction of justice or coordination with Russia to intervene in the election on Trump’s behalf. The president’s reliance on his Republican base to stick with him no matter what may, in the long run, prove foolish."