A Tuesday poll from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling provided insight into Americans’ thoughts on President Donald Trump’s unexpected firing of the FBI director, James Comey, last week.
The outlet found that 37% of respondents supported the president’s decision to oust Comey while 48% opposed the move. Another 15% were unsure.
In his letter firing Comey, Trump cited a recommendation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that criticised Comey for his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. But Trump later told NBC News that he would have fired Comey “regardless” of the recommendation and mentioned the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Russia.
Comey presided over the Russia investigation, which he announced publicly during a March hearing. As part of the investigation, the FBI is also looking into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials. The same day Comey was fired, a grand jury issued the first subpoenas in that investigation, seeking business records of associates of ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn, CBS reported.
Trump said he received multiple personal assurances from Comey, whom he called a “showboat” and a “grandstander,” that he was not personally under investigation. Trump later tweeted that Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
In the PPP poll, 54% of respondents said they believed the reason for Comey’s firing was tied to the FBI’s investigation into Russia, while 34% said they did not believe so. Another 12% said they did not have a strong feeling either way.
The New York Times reported last week that during a dinner when Trump said Comey assured him he was not under investigation, Trump asked Comey to pledge his loyalty. Asked whether it was the job of the FBI director to be loyal to the president, just 23% of PPP respondents said it was. An overwhelming 66% said it was not, and another 12% said they were not sure.
Also, respondents expressed a low favorability rating of Comey. Just 24% said they had favourable views of the ousted FBI director, and another 40% said they viewed him unfavorably. Many were unsure of their feelings, with 36% not leaning one way or another.
And on whether the “Russia story” is “fake news,” as Trump has claimed, 33% of PPP respondents suggested they believe Trump is right. Another 51% said they disagree with Trump, while 17% don’t know one way or the other. Respondents overwhelmingly want a special prosecutor appointed to investigate Russian involvement in last year’s presidential election, with 62% of those surveyed wanting one. Just 28% did not want a special prosecutor appointed, and 10% were unsure.
PPP surveyed 692 registered voters between May 12 and 14. The margin of error was 3.7 percentage points.
More from Allan Smith:
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