Public split on how much Congress should investigate President Trump

As newly empowered House Democrats begin official investigations into President TrumpDonald TrumpDemocrats, activists blast reported Trump DOJ effort to get journalists' phone records Arizona secretary of state gets security detail over death threats surrounding election audit Trump admin got phone records of WaPo reporters covering Russia probe: report MORE and his administration, a new poll finds that the public is strongly divided on how much congressional oversight is needed.

In a Hill-HarrisX poll released Tuesday, 46 percent of registered voters who were contacted said they believed that congressional Democrats were too focused on investigating Trump while 41 percent said that congressional Republicans did not do enough to scrutinize the president's activities.

Thirteen percent of respondents said they were unsure which position came closest to their viewpoint.

Independent voters were evenly split on the question with 42 percent saying that Democrats are too interested in presidential investigations while 40 percent said that Republicans did not do enough.

A sizable minority of independents, 18 percent, were unsure.

Self-identified partisans were strongly divided on the matter. An overwhelming 80 percent of Republican voters said that Democrats were too focused on investigations. Just 12 percent said that GOP legislators didn't scrutinize Trump enough.

The vast majority of Democratic voters in the survey, 67 percent, said that the congressional GOP didn't do enough to investigate the president. But Democratic voters were somewhat more likely to believe their congressional leaders were excessively interested in investigations with 20 percent saying so.

Members of Congress in both parties have often fought bitterly over congressional oversight efforts. In the House, both parties spent much of the first two years of Trump's term struggling over investigations into Russia's interference in the 2016 election. The rancor grew so strong in the Intelligence Committee that there was even talk about building partitions to separate committee staffers within shared office space.

Republicans and Democrats have also scuffled on obtaining Trump's income tax records since he has broken with the long-standing tradition of candidates and presidents releasing them to the public.

In the Senate, those differences have been somewhat more muted. While the House Intelligence Commmittee has been bitterly divided over its Trump-Russia investigation, Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrBattle lines drawn over Biden's support for vaccine waivers FDA unveils plan to ban menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars The Hill's Morning Report - Biden to country: 'Turning peril into possibility' MORE (R-NC) and Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerFacebook board decision on Trump ban pleases no one Schumer works to balance a divided caucus's demands Senate Intel vows to 'get to the bottom' of 'Havana syndrome' attacks MORE (D-Va.) have operated their inquiry in a bipartisan fashion.

Party divisions within the House have flared up after Democrats have stated that they will begin the process of obtaining the president's tax records and Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump backs Stefanik to replace Cheney Gender politics hound GOP in Cheney drama Senate Intel vows to 'get to the bottom' of 'Havana syndrome' attacks MORE (D-Calif.) and other Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee indicated that they would re-open the panel's Russia investigation that GOP members had closed in 2018.

The strong differences in partisan opinions suggests that both sides are likely to continue their present course since that is what each party's voters want it to do.

"Democrats are going to want to investigate and Republicans are going to say 'we've made the choice and this is our president' and so there's going to kind of be a re-litigating the 2016 election all over again," Conor Maguire, a senior strategist at the GOP campaign consulting firm WPA Intelligence said on Tuesday's broadcast of Hill.TV's show "What America's Thinking."

The latest Hill-HarrisX survey was conducted Feb. 9-10 among a representative national sample of 1,003 registered voters and has a sampling margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

—Matthew Sheffield