Most Republicans agree with Trump that FBI’s investigation is a ‘witch hunt’

The president and congressional Republicans have blasted law enforcement as biased 

Jeremy B. White
San Francisco
Thursday 10 May 2018 17:34 BST
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Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House
Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House

The vast majority of Republicans believe the FBI is biased against Donald Trump, a new poll found, matching the president’s denunciations of the law enforcement agency.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling and potential links to the Trump presidential campaign has been a constant target for Mr Trump.

Even as the probe has produced indictments of multiple members of his circle, Mr Trump has lambasted the investigation as a partisan “witch hunt” and expanded that critique to argue the leadership of the FBI and the Justice Department are tainted by bias.

A poll conducted by the Economist and YouGov found that just 13 per cent of Republicans believed the “FBI investigation of President Trump” was a “legitimate investigation”. Some 75 per cent, by contrast, agreed with the president that it was a “witch hunt”.

Those numbers flipped for Democrats, three-quarters of whom believed the probe was legitimate. Independent voters registered a statistical tie as to whether the investigation was merited or not.

The findings suggest that partisan attacks by Mr Trump and congressional Republicans on law enforcement are resonating with their constituents.

While Mr Trump has railed against Mr Mueller’s probe and assailed senior law enforcement officials by name - helping to lay the groundwork for the firing of former top FBI official Andrew McCabe - Republican legislators have continually questioned the credibility and fairness of federal investigations.

Over the objections of the FBI and the Justice Department, Republicans publicly released a memo purporting to show abuses of government surveillance powers in law enforcement officials obtaining authority to surveil former Trump associate Carter Page in 2016.

Donald Trump says Nunes memo is declassified and Congress will "do whatever" with it

Republicans have also been pushing the Justice Department to release more documents detailing Mr Mueller’s investigation, fueling a standoff with deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein. After a group of conservative House Republicans drafted articles of impeachment targeting Mr Rosenstein, he fired back that the Justice Department “is not going to be extorted”.

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