Nearly half of registered voters surveyed in a new poll think the FBI is up to no good and believe a special prosecutor is needed to ferret out misdeeds, while just 31% say the domestic surveillance bureau is acting in good faith.
The bureau has been front and center since before the 2016 presidential election, when then-Director James Comey reopened — then quickly closed — a probe into Hillary Clinton’s misuse of classified information. New revelations about a top-level agent involved in clearing Clinton, as well as a subsequent probe into whether President Trump colluded with Russia, have exploded into the news in recent days.
The poll, conducted by Rasmussen Reports, found that 49% of “likely U.S. voters” believe a special prosecutor “should be named to investigate whether senior FBI officials handled the investigation of Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump in a legal and unbiased fashion. Thirty-one percent (31%) disagree, but a sizable 19% are not sure.”
Sixty-two percent (62%) of Republicans are calling for an outside prosecutor to investigate the FBI, as is a plurality (49%) of voters not affiliated with either major political party. Among Democrats, 38% favor a special prosecutor; 40% are opposed, but 22% are undecided.
The FBI has told Congress that it is unable to retrieve about five months of high-level text messages from the period in 2016 when it was determining whether to seek an indictment of Clinton. The messages are to and from an agent who is already being investigated for anti-Trump bias and was a top player on special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s team investigating the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with the Russians.
Fifty-eight percent (58%) of all voters think it is likely that the FBI or the agent in question destroyed those messages to hide something from investigators. Thirty percent (30%) consider that unlikely. This includes 40% who say it’s Very Likely the messages were deliberately destroyed versus 13% who say it’s Not At All Likely. Another 13% are not sure.
The FBI said last Friday that because of a “glitch” in the bureau’s Samsung 5 mobile phones, some five months worth of text messages between agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page have mysteriously disappeared.
Strzok was a lead counterintelligence official who was involved in the clearing of Clinton for mishandling classified documents and also was part of the team investigating Trump for alleged collusion with Russia before the 2016 election.
The Rasmussen survey contacted 1,000 voters and was conducted on January 22-23, 2018 by Rasmussen Reports.
In other findings:
- Voters by a narrow 48% to 41% margin said in December that senior federal law enforcement officials broke the law in an effort to prevent Trump from winning the 2016 election.
- Sixty-two percent (62%) of Republicans think it is Very Likely that the FBI or the agent involved destroyed high-level text messages from the period in 2016 when the FBI was deciding whether to seek an indictment of Clinton. Just 21% of Democrats and 38% of unaffiliated voters agree.
- Seventy percent (70%) of voters who Strongly Approve of the job President Trump is doing think a special prosecutor is needed to investigate the FBI. Among those who Strongly Disapprove of the president’s job performance, only 36% agree.
- Fifty-nine percent (59%) of voters who favor a special prosecutor think the FBI is Very Likely to be hiding something. Even among those opposed to a special prosecutor, just 22% say it’s Not At All Likely that the FBI deliberately destroyed the messages in question.
- Sixty-four percent (64%) of all voters think Clinton is likely to have broken the law by sending and receiving e-mails containing classified information through a private e-mail server while serving as secretary of State.