President Donald Trump has stated openly that his and his family's finances should be off limits to special counsel Robert Mueller—who is investigating possible collusion between Trump's presidential campaign and Russia—but a new poll published Thursday shows that large majority of Americans disagree.
Asked if "Mueller should be able to investigate whether Donald Trump had any financial dealings with Russia," 70 percent of Americans said he should be able to, while only 25 percent agreed with Trump that his finances should be out of bounds.
The survey, conducted by CNN in partnership with SSRS, also found:
- 67 percent of Americans believe Attorney General Jeff Sessions "did the right thing" by recusing himself from the Russia probe (Trump has denounced Sessions for his decision);
- 60 percent believe "the investigation into Russian efforts to influence the U.S. presidential election in 2016" is "a serious matter that should be fully investigated" (Trump has dismissed the probe as a "witch hunt");
- 59 percent disapprove of Trump's handling of the Russia investigation.
As Common Dreams reported last month, Trump—who has fueled speculation about possible conflicts of interest by persistently refusing to release his tax returns—has warned Mueller not to look into his finances, saying such a move would cross a "red line."
Recent developments indicate that Mueller has ignored this warning. CNN reported last week that the special counsel is now, despite the president's protests, "on the Trump money trail."
"Federal investigators exploring whether Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Russian spies have seized on Trump and his associates' financial ties to Russia as one of the most fertile avenues for moving their probe forward," CNN's Evan Perez, Pamela Brown, and Shimon Prokupecz observed.
Additionally, news broke Wednesday that the home of Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, was recently the target of a "predawn" FBI raid backed by a court order obtained by Mueller.
"Trump must not be allowed to obstruct justice and threaten the rule of law."
The intensification of the probe has elevated the concern among lawmakers and activists that Trump could fire Mueller at any moment.
Anticipating such a move, which some have argued would constitute obstruction of justice, a coalition of groups—including Public Citizen, Common Cause, and Indivisible—has outlined plans to mobilize in the event that Trump does terminate Mueller.
"Trump must be prevented from interfering with the independent special counsel's investigation, which must be allowed to play out," the groups said in a joint statement earlier this week. "Public outrage must act as a check on the president’s rapidly growing out-of-control behavior, as must Congress... Trump must not be allowed to obstruct justice and threaten the rule of law."