(CN) – Americans trust the FBI despite a concerted campaign by Republican political operatives to cast its investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign as motivated by political bias against the president.
Two-thirds of the American public would trust the FBI over Donald Trump should they disagree, according to a Marist Poll released on Friday.
Only 24 percent of those polled would take the side of Trump, most of whom count themselves as his most ardent supporters, the poll revealed.
“If the White House was banking on the release of the Nunes memo to flip public opinion against the FBI, that has not happened,” said Lee Miringoff, director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “In fact, the Nunes memo becomes just another page in a lengthy book on the investigation.”
Devin Nunes released a five-page memo that Republicans touted as evidence a cabal within the FBI were responsible for generating the investigation due to an anti-Trump bias and relied on a now infamous dossier that was solicited and paid for by Trump’s Republican primary opponents and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
The memo turned out to contain little evidence that backed Republican allegations of FISA warrant abuses and a scandal larger than Watergate.
This fact does not seem lost on the American public.
Even Republicans, 49 percent of whom said they believe the FBI has a grievance against Trump, still maintain a high opinion of the federal law enforcement agency, with 43 percent saying they are simply carrying out their duty.
A majority of Americans hold the FBI in high regard, regardless of demographic or party splits. For Republicans, 55 percent of those polled said they have a favorable view of the agency, while 65 percent of respondents, regardless of affiliation, expressed approval.
By contrast, Trump’s favorability rating is low, with only 35 percent of the public retaining a positive impression and 57 percent holding a negative view.
The president’s job approval (36 percent) was basically flat from last month, but the number of people who strongly disapprove of his job performance (44 percent) vastly outweighs those who strongly approve (24 percent).
The poll has more bad news for Trump, in that if Americans were forced to pick a side between Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, more would believe Mueller (55 percent) than the president (30 percent).
While speculation runs that Republicans have been attacking the FBI, or at least certain agents, in order to foster an environment conducive to allow Trump to fire Mueller, Friday’s poll indicates seven in 10 want Mueller to see the investigation through to its conclusion.
This includes a majority of Republicans (55 percent). Only 16 percent of the American public wants to see Mueller fired. However, part of the reason could be that a large share of the American public has never heard of the former FBI Director.
“Although most Americans think the Mueller investigation is fair and should move ahead to completion, his standing in the court of public opinion is not solid given the large proportion of people who have not formed an impression of him,” Miringoff said.
Many Americans do believe Trump did something either illegal or unethical (57 percent), while only a quarter of those polled think he did nothing wrong at all.
The percentage of Americans who think Trump did something wrong regarding Russia has increased steadily since October.