Public overwhelmingly opposes Trump pardoning his associates

As President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' Lawmakers dismiss Chinese retaliatory threat to US tech MORE and his former campaign face increasing legal scrutiny, he has publicly and privately discussed potential pardons for his associates, but a new The Hill-HarrisX poll finds that Americans would overwhelmingly disapprove of such pardons.

In a Dec. 15-16 survey of 1,000 registered voters, only 28 percent agreed that it would be "proper" for Trump to pardon former aides convicted by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump MORE. The vast majority, 72 percent, said no.

Trump has continued to raise the idea of granting clemency to former associates, including his onetime campaign chairman, Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortDOJ backs ex-Trump campaign aide Richard Gates's probation request Former FBI general counsel wants apology from Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - Democrats to release articles of impeachment today MORE. In a November interview with The New York Post, the president said that he "wouldn't take it off the table," referring to a potential pardon for Manafort.

The veteran political consultant has battled with Mueller for months after being indicted and convicted on several charges for his dealings with Russian and Ukrainian figures. Trump has repeatedly said that Manafort has been "treated unfairly" by Mueller, a phrase he has used to also describe people he has already pardoned, such as I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a former George W. Bush adviser who was convicted by a previous special counsel investigation.

The public appears to be strongly united against Trump commuting sentences of his associates.

Seventy-six percent of women in the Hill-HarrisX survey said it would not be proper for Trump to pardon close associates, as did 67 percent of men. Strong majorities of people of every racial demographic group also disagreed with the potential move. Only 30 percent of Hispanics said such pardons would be proper, as well as just 29 percent of white respondents and 24 percent of black respondents.

Even a majority of Republicans, 56 percent, said that Trump would be acting inappropriately if he were to pardon current and former aides. Large majorities of independents, at 74 percent, and Democrats, at 84 percent, also said it would not be acceptable.

A majority of every demographic group except for self-identified "strong conservatives" express disapproval of the idea, but even that group was split 50-50.

"Even among Republicans, they're saying that this is something he should not do," GOP pollster Jim Hobart said Friday on "What America's Thinking," adding that he hoped that Trump would pivot more toward policies that are approved of by the majority of voters, such as his recent success with criminal justice reform.

Trump, however, does not appear overly beholden to what the public approves of, Ruy Teixeira, a senior fellow at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, told "What America's Thinking" host Jamal Simmons.

"It's always a little hard to tell with Trump, these days," Teixeira said. "He's done and said so many things that an additional thing like this, how much would it really add to what people already think about him? It's hard to say."

In addition to talking openly about potentially pardoning his allies, the president has also proclaimed that he has the authority to pardon himself, should he wish to.

"As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?” Trump wrote on Twitter in June.

Rudy Giuliani, the president's top personal lawyer, has said that he believes Trump has the constitutional power to pardon himself, even though doing so would be "tough" from a political standpoint.

The Hill-HarrisX poll is a joint project of The Hill's new online TV division, Hill.TV, and the HarrisX polling company that surveys 1,000 Americans a day on the issues of the day in politics and policy. The Dec. 15-16 survey has a sampling margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

—Matthew Sheffield