TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -Nearly three out of four Republicans believe the FBI and Justice Department are trying to undermine U.S. President Donald Trump, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Monday, a sharp turn for a party that has historically been a strong backer of law enforcement agencies.
Overall, most of the public still believes that Trump or someone from his campaign worked with Russia to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election, allegations that Moscow and Trump have repeatedly denied.
The Feb. 3-5 poll found that Americans were sharply divided along party lines over a federal investigation into potential ties between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, a controversy that has hung over his year-old presidency.
Trump has called the probe a witch hunt and accused the top leadership of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department of being biased against him. The dispute has caused an extraordinary breach between the White House and law enforcement and deepened partisan rancor.
Some 73 percent of Republicans agreed that “members of the FBI and Department of Justice are working to delegitimize Trump through politically motivated investigations.”
But three in four Democrats said they believed a competing narrative that “members of the Republican Party and the White House are working to delegitimize the FBI and DOJ in the investigation of Russian tampering in the 2016 presidential election.”
The poll findings appear to reflect the influence that Trump wields among Republicans, who have long reserved some of their highest levels of trust for the country’s law enforcement agencies.
Nearly 84 percent of Republicans said in a January 2015 Reuters/Ipsos poll that they had a “favorable” view of the FBI.
Last month, 91 percent of Republicans said they had a “great deal” or “some” confidence in the country’s law enforcement agencies, compared with the 75 percent who expressed a similar level of confidence in the Trump administration and 47 percent who said the same about Congress.
Erroll Southers, a national security expert and former FBI agent, said Trump had shown an uncanny ability to shape his supporters’ views of the world in a way that benefits him. By hammering at federal investigators, Southers said, Trump was inoculating himself from any political fallout that may follow.