Majority support Mueller’s handling of special counsel probe: poll

A majority of voters surveyed are supportive of how Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller has handled the investigation into Russia’s election meddling, according to a new Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll shows.
But the voters in the poll have a less positive view on former FBI Director James Comey, who has taken center stage as he embarks on a media tour to promote his new book. 
The voters appear to approve of Mueller’s conduct so far, with 58 percent saying they believe he has “stayed within the boundaries of the Russia investigation.”
{mosads}More than six out of 10 believe that the recent FBI raid on the president’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was within the special counsel’s power, even as President Trump attempts to frame it as a violation of his attorney-client privilege. 
And 68 percent believe the president should not fire either Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. While the White House has repeatedly denied that Trump has any interest in firing the two officials, Trump has become more vocal with his criticism of them. 
But voters differ on whether they believe that Mueller should expand the investigation to Trump’s personal life and issues unrelated to the Russia investigation. Fifty-two percent were supportive of Mueller investigating wherever he chooses, while 48 percent believe he should stick to Russia’s election meddling.  
They also aren’t sold on the idea that Mueller’s investigation has turned up collusion, the centerpiece of the investigation. Only 37 percent affirmatively believe Mueller has uncovered evidence of Trump campaign officials colluding with the Russians. The same percentage of people believes Mueller hasn’t cleared that bar, with another 26 percent unsure.  
And they are split on the role of bias in the decision to open an investigation into the president. Fifty-five percent say bias played a role “in launching investigations” against Trump, but 51 percent also say that the investigations were started “on the basis of significant hard evidence.”
Even as voters are willing to give Mueller a relatively wide berth, they are far less approving of Comey and his media tour. 
Almost 70 percent of voters polled support a two-year cooling-off period for public officials like Comey before they are allowed to write a memoir about his time in office. And when asked whether “it is right for the former director of the FBI to be making millions of dollars off of books and speeches about his work,” 59 percent say that “former heads of the FBI should avoid politics.”
A slim majority of 52 percent said it was wrong of Comey to leak memos after he was fired — the former FBI director shared details of his contemporaneous notes from his time under Trump with a friend, who subsequently shared some of the information with the media. 
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the Justice Department is looking into classification issues surrounding the memos, since the FBI subsequently labeled some of the details in the memos confidential after he left the bureau. The Journal’s report adds that Comey redacted portions of the memos before giving the notes to the friend, Columbia Law School professor Daniel Richman. 
The new polling found that 52 percent of registered voters believe it was wrong for him to leak the memos in the first place, and that 56 percent say Comey should be indicted if the Department of Justice investigation finds he “knowingly leaked classified information.” 
Even so, 57 percent believe the memos are an “accurate reflection” of the conversations between Trump and Comey. 
The data also shows that voters are still hungry for additional investigation. Almost three-quarters of voters back a second special counsel to “investigate potential abuses at the FBI,” an uptick from last month’s results, while 65 percent back prosecutors looking into Comey and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. 
McCabe was recently fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on the recommendation of the FBI’s personnel office. An FBI inspector general report found he had lied to internal investigators and to Comey, his boss, about his contacts with the media.
“Voters say that President Trump should not fire Mueller or Rosenstein but do want a new special counsel by record margins,” said Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll Co-Director Mark Penn.
“The voters have concluded that there was bias against Trump and increasingly question the actions of former FBI director James Comey. Most believe Comey’s actions should be investigated.”
The Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll online survey of 1,549 registered voters was conducted April 22-24. The partisan breakdown is 37 percent Democrat, 32 percent Republican, 29 percent independent and 4 percent other.
The Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll is a collaboration of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and The Harris Poll. The Hill will be working with Harvard/Harris Poll throughout 2018. 
Full poll results will be posted online later this week. The Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris Panel and weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval.
Tags Andrew McCabe Comey book tour Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Donald Trump FBI James Comey Jeff Sessions poll Robert Mueller Rod Rosenstein
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