President Trump’s disapproval rating has hit a high point of 60 percent, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll that also finds that clear majorities of Americans support the special counsel’s Russia investigation and say the president should not fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
At the dawn of the fall campaign sprint to the midterm elections, which will determine whether Democrats retake control of Congress, the poll finds a majority of the public has turned against Trump and is on guard against his efforts to influence the Justice Department and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s wide-ranging probe.
Nearly half of Americans, 49 percent, say Congress should begin impeachment proceedings that could lead to Trump being removed from office, while 46 percent say Congress should not.
And a narrow majority — 53 percent — say they think Trump has tried to interfere with Mueller’s investigation in a way that amounts to obstruction of justice; 35 percent say they do not think the president has tried to interfere.
Overall, 60 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump’s job performance, with 36 percent approving, according to the poll. Because of random sampling variation, this represents only a marginal shift from the last Post-ABC survey, in April, which measured Trump’s rating at 56 percent disapproval and 40 percent approval.
The new poll was conducted Aug. 26 to 29, in the week after former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was convicted of federal tax and bank fraud and after former Trump attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty and implicated the president in illegal payments to silence women who alleged sexual encounters with Trump.
The four-month gap between Post-ABC polls makes it difficult to attribute the modest uptick in disapproval of Trump to specific events. Other public polls have shown Trump’s disapproval rating in the low- to mid-50s and have not tracked a rise since the Manafort conviction and Cohen guilty plea.
Trump has tried to rally support for Republican candidates in the Nov. 6 elections by pointing to his economic record. This week’s poll finds that despite the president’s unpopularity with voters, he gets better ratings when it comes to the economy: 45 percent of Americans approve and 47 percent disapprove of Trump’s handling of the economy.
Trump’s overall popularity breaks down along lines of partisanship, ethnicity and gender, according to the poll. While 78 percent of Republicans approve of his performance, 93 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of independents disapprove. More men support him than women, and while 45 percent of whites back him, 19 percent of nonwhites approve.
The poll finds that there are clear limitations to Trump’s efforts all summer to politicize and discredit the Russia investigation. The president has fired a near-daily barrage of tweets labeling the probe a “witch hunt” and attacking the credibility of Mueller and several current and former Justice Department officials.
But 63 percent of Americans support Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, with 52 percent saying they support it strongly; 29 percent oppose the probe.
Opinions on Mueller’s work also break down on partisan lines, with 61 percent of Republicans opposing the probe but an even larger 85 percent of Democrats expressing support. Among independents, however, a two-thirds majority of 67 percent back the investigation.
Trump has complained that Manafort was treated unfairly by Mueller’s prosecutors, and after a jury convicted Manafort earlier this month the president tweeted that he felt “very badly” for him.
But 67 percent of Americans think Mueller’s case against Manafort was justified, while 17 percent say it was unjustified, according to the poll.
Trump’s praise of Manafort has stirred speculation that he might pardon his former campaign chairman, but the poll finds that it would be a political land mine for the president. Two-thirds of Americans oppose Trump pardoning Manafort — 53 percent strongly oppose it — and 18 percent support a pardon.