President Donald Trump’s approval rating dropped 3 percentage points following the Thursday release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian attacks on U.S. elections and Trump’s efforts to obstruct the probe.
The poll was conducted by Reuters/Ipsos from Thursday afternoon to Friday morning. It showed Trump’s approval at 37%, the president’s lowest this year. That’s down from 40% on April 15 and from 43% after U.S. Attorney General William Barr released a letter “summarizing” the Mueller report in late March, Reuters reported.
The news agency noted that Mueller’s 448-page report “does not appear to have convinced many to change their opinions” about Trump, and the results were unsurprisingly split among party lines. Of those who said they were familiar with the report, only 15% of those polled said it had prompted them to change their views of Trump and the Russia investigation.
On the issue of impeachment, 40% of those surveyed said Trump should be impeached, compared to 42% who said he shouldn’t. And half of the Americans polled said they agreed that Trump or someone working on his 2016 presidential campaign collaborated with Russia to influence the elections. Fifty-eight percent said they believed Trump tried to obstruct the investigation.
If you find any of these numbers discouraging, remember that former President Richard Nixon’s approval ratings were over 50% shortly before the Senate began holding televised Watergate hearings in May 1973. When those hearings started, the percentage of Americans who thought Nixon should be removed from office was at only 19%, according to the Pew Research Center. That number had climbed to 57% by the time Nixon resigned in August of the following year.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said Friday that he would hold televised hearings on Trump’s conduct outlined in the Mueller report. Nadler told WNYC FM’s Brian Lehrer, “We will get to the bottom of this and educate the country about what is going on.”
Barr and Mueller will be among the first to testify before Congress in the wake of the report’s release, but Nadler said he also would call “a lot of other people.”
Nadler issued a subpoena Friday for the Justice Department to submit to Congress an unredacted version of the report, along with the report’s underlying evidence and testimony—including summaries of witness interviews—by May 1.
“Even the redacted version of the report outlines serious instances of wrongdoing by President Trump and some of his closest associates,” Nadler said in a statement quoted by The New York Times. “It now falls to Congress to determine the full scope of that alleged misconduct and to decide what steps we must take going forward.”
Also on Friday, six Democratic leaders in Congress submitted a letter to Barr rejecting an offer by the attorney general for the lawmakers to be provided a less-redacted version of the report.
“In order for Congress to fulfill its functions as intended by the Constitution, it must operate as a coequal and coordinate branch of government,” the letter, signed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, Nadler, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, and Senate Ranking Members Dianne Feinstein and Mark Warner, said. “Given the comprehensive factual findings presented by the Special Counsel’s Report, some of which will only be fully understood with access to the redacted material, we cannot agree to the conditions you are placing on our access to the full report.”
Pelosi, who is on a congressional trip to Ireland, dodged the impeachment question on Friday, saying she wouldn’t criticize the president while outside the U.S. Her spokeswoman, Ashley Etienne, told Bloomberg, “We’re focused on getting the full unredacted version of the report and its underlying documents – as well as hearing from Mueller.”
Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Thursday that “going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point.” He added: “Very frankly, there is an election in 18 months and the American people will make a judgement.”
Note to Hoyer: There also was an election just five months ago in which Democrats picked up 41 seats in the House.
As Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who became the first Democratic candidate for president in 2020 to call for impeachment hearings, said on Twitter, “To ignore a President’s repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country, and it would suggest that both the current and future Presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways.”
“The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty. That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States,” she added.
In his report, Mueller identified at least 10 instances in which Trump might have obstructed justice, although the special counsel declined to pursue charges against the president. “...[I]f we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” Mueller stated.
The report added: “The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.”