Poll: Americans support Mueller expanding probe beyond Russia allegations

A new poll suggests that Americans would support special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTop Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE in pursuit of any potential criminal activities by associates of President TrumpDonald John TrumpPompeo changes staff for Russia meeting after concerns raised about top negotiator's ties: report House unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Ben Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist MORE, even if those activities don't directly relate to his investigation into Russian election interference.

In a survey by The Hill/HarrisX, 57 percent of respondents said they would back Mueller's pursuit of any potential crimes the probe uncovers, while 43 percent said they would prefer the special prosecutor restrict his investigation to only matters related to the 2016 election.

Women were more likely than men to support an expanded Mueller effort, with 62 percent supporting it and 38 percent opposing it. A majority of men supported the idea as well, however, with a narrower 53 percent approval compared to 47 percent disapproval.

The results were also split heavily along party lines, but more Republicans, 30 percent, said they supported expanding the scope while only 20 percent of Democrats said they wanted Mueller to limit the scope of the investigation. Among independents, 57 percent support a possible expansion of the investigation.

"Obviously, if you look at this poll by partisanship, fewer Republicans than Democrats or independents want an all-encompassing investigation so I'm sure your sentiment toward the president sort of weighs into part of that but I don't think it tells the whole story," said Mallory Newall, research director at the Ipsos Public Affairs polling firm said on Thursday's broadcast of "What America's Thinking."

President Trump and his supporters have repeatedly accused Mueller of turning his investigation in a "witch hunt" with little regard as to scope but those efforts do not appear to have persuaded the public.

In a Hill/HarrisX poll released Wednesday, 57 percent of voters surveyed said that they believed the special counsel was unbiased while 42 percent said he was unfair.

There are no signs that Mueller is expanding his prosecutorial efforts beyond Russia matters. Some legal observers have argued that the special counsel's recent moves to pursue sentencing against several investigation targets signal that his inquiry may be coming to an end.

"Because of the fact that we are beginning to see sentencings, those tend to be a sign that things are wrapping up because you only sentence people when they're done with their cooperation," former federal prosecutor Elliot Williams told Hill.TV on Wednesday.

— Matthew Sheffield