As has been the case in other recent polls, a new survey from Fox News indicates that public approval of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has dropped. In June, 55 percent of respondents said they approved of the Mueller probe. Now, that figure has dropped below 50 percent, hitting 48 percent. Still a plurality, but it’s waning.
Interestingly, the biggest shift against the probe came not from Republicans but from Democrats and people who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Support from independents and Republicans was essentially unchanged.
In part, this is a function of where there was room to fall. Only 23 percent of Republicans approved of the Mueller probe in June anyway; falling another 10 points wasn’t likely. The lack of change among independents, though, is interesting, and not necessarily explained by the data.
Fox’s pollsters also asked another question that’s pertinent to the Mueller investigation. If you had the chance, they asked, would you tell Mueller to wrap up his probe or to take the time necessary to see it through?
A majority, 54 percent, said that he should take his time — a higher percentage than actually approve of the probe. In fact, more than a quarter of both Republicans and Trump voters supported Mueller taking the time he needs to ensure a thorough investigation.
The special counsel, as you probably know, exists as a sort of appendix to President Trump’s administration, largely but not entirely independent of the Justice Department. Asked how they felt about the administration’s handling of the investigations into Russian interference, most respondents to the Fox poll said that they disapproved, including majorities of Democrats and independents.
But then, majorities also disapproved — by a wider margin — of how the administration of Barack Obama handled the interference effort as it was happening. That includes more than a third of both Democrats and those who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Of course, it’s not terribly surprising that Clinton voters would be unhappy with the relative success of the Russian-interference effort.