Hill-HarrisX poll: 76 percent oppose Trump pardoning former campaign aides

A Hill-HarrisX poll released Tuesday shows overwhelming opposition to the idea of President TrumpDonald John Trump5 things to know about Boris Johnson Conservatives erupt in outrage against budget deal Trump says Omar will help him win Minnesota MORE pardoning former aides who worked on his 2016 campaign.

Seventy-six percent of voters contacted for the March 16-17 survey said they opposed Trump extending executive pardons to his former political aides. Only 24 percent said they would approve of the pardons.

Several former Trump aides, including his former personal attorney, Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenWill Democrats be up to the task of publicly interviewing Mueller? A question for Robert Mueller Key numbers to know for Mueller's testimony MORE, and his one-time campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortHow Mueller deputy Andrew Weissmann's offer to an oligarch could boomerang on DOJ Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Key numbers to know for Mueller's testimony MORE, have either been convicted in court or pled guilty to a number of federal crimes.

While Trump has not announced any pardons for his one-time staffers, several of them have raised the topic, his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, told Hill.TV earlier this month.

Attorneys for Cohen have said that he was interested in receiving pardon, but is not any more. He is set to serve a 3-year sentence beginning May 6.

All demographic segments of the public were opposed to the idea of Trump pardoning his former associates. Even Republicans were against it, 63 to 37 percent. Independents strongly rejected the idea, 76 to 24 percent. Democrats were even more opposed, 87 to 13 percent.

"Pardons have never been popular," Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute said on Tuesday's broadcast of "What America's Thinking," Hill.TV's show about public opinion and polling. "You can go all the way back to Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon. Now people changed their mind about that over time but initially it was very unpopular. Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonDavis: Advice to House Democrats — Mueller is right to stick to the facts; don't ask him to imitate Starr and Comey Biden campaign taps foreign policy vet Nicholas Burns as adviser: report Major health reform requires Democratic congressional dominance MORE's pardon of Marc Rich at the very end of his administration, not popular. Trump's pardon of [Joe] Arpaio, not popular. Pardons are not popular."

Public opinion on the idea of Trump pardoning his former associates has been stable in Hill-HarrisX polling. In a Dec. 15-16 survey, only 28 percent of registered voters said they approved of the idea of Trump granting executive clemency to people who were convicted by Department of Justice special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerThis week: Mueller dominates chaotic week on Capitol Hill Top Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction MORE.

The president has repeatedly emphasized his pardon power on Twitter and in news interviews. He also has argued that he could pardon himself if he wanted 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 in a June 2018 Twitter post.

Congressional Democrats, however, have argued that the president would be obstructing justice if he were to pardon people who were under investigation. At least some Republicans appear to agree.

"As a former prosecutor I have a lot of faith in the justice system. I don’t think anyone should dangle a pardon which could undermine the process. Once time has gone by and the appeals have been exhausted and there seems to be an injustice, then [a pardon] could be considered," former Rep. Tom RooneyThomas (Tom) Joseph RooneyHouse Dem calls on lawmakers to 'insulate' election process following Mueller report Hill-HarrisX poll: 76 percent oppose Trump pardoning former campaign aides Dems fear Trump is looking at presidential pardons MORE (R-Fla.), told The Hill earlier this week.

"I don't believe the president has any plans to pardon these individuals," Rep. Chris StewartChristopher (Chris) Douglas StewartThis week: Mueller dominates chaotic week on Capitol Hill House gears up for Mueller testimony House Intel Republican: 'Foolish' not to take info on opponent from foreign ally MORE (R-Utah) said. “The only people who suggest this are the president's political detractors."

—Matthew Sheffield