The release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Trump-Russia scandal has taken a toll on the president’s polling numbers.
This article first appeared in Salon.
A survey conducted by Reuters/Ipsos from Thursday afternoon to Friday morning found that President Donald Trump’s numbers are the lowest that they’ve been this year. Trump’s approval rating was at 37 percent, down from 40 percent on April 15 and 43 percent following the release of Attorney General Bill Barr’s summary of the Mueller report. This indicates that whatever initial benefits Trump received from Barr’s spin on the Mueller report have worn off, if not worse.
Only 15 percent of the individuals surveyed said that the Mueller report had changed their opinion on the Trump-Russia investigation, with 40 percent saying Trump should be impeached and 42 percent saying that he should not be impeached. Perhaps most damning, 58 percent of Americans believe that Trump attempted to obstruct the Mueller investigation.
One prominent Republican who has spoken out against Trump in the aftermath of the Mueller report is Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah. In a statement on Friday, Romney said that he was happy that “the business of government can move on” but added that he was “sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the President. I am also appalled that, among other things, fellow citizens working in a campaign for president welcomed help from Russia — including information that had been illegally obtained; that none of them acted to inform law enforcement; and that the campaign chairman was actively promoting Russian interests in Ukraine.”
He added, “Reading the report is a sobering revelation of how far we have strayed from the aspirations and principles of the founders.”
Trump responded to Romney’s statement on the following day by tweeting that “if @MittRomney spent the same energy fighting Barack Obama as he does fighting Donald Trump, he could have won the race (maybe)!”
Princeton author Julian Zellizer wrote a scathing condemnation of the Trump administration based on the Mueller report, one that was published on CNN.
“Indeed, if this is a ‘good’ report for the President, it is hard to imagine what a bad one would look like,” Zelizer wrote.
He added, “It turns out that much of the news we have been reading was accurate, not fake — about the Trump Tower project, about the contacts between campaign officials and individuals connected with Russia, and about the President’s efforts to fire Mueller. It seems that numerous investigations spun out of Mueller’s inquiry are very much in play.”
By contrast The Intercept writer and co-editor Glenn Greenwald wrote an editorial claiming that the Mueller report had disproved Democratic accusations against Trump.
“In sum, Democrats and their supporters had the exact prosecutor they all agreed was the embodiment of competence and integrity in Robert Mueller,” Greenwald wrote. After describing the resources that Mueller at his disposal, Greenwald concluded, “The result of all of that was that not a single American – whether with the Trump campaign or otherwise – was charged or indicted on the core question of whether there was any conspiracy or coordination with Russia over the election. No Americans were charged or even accused of being controlled by or working at the behest of the Russian government. None of the key White House aides at the center of the controversy who testified for hours and hours – including Donald Trump, Jr. or Jared Kushner – were charged with any crimes of any kind, not even perjury, obstruction of justice or lying to Congress.”