- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Fewer than one-in-five registered voters held a positive opinion of FBI Director James Comey prior to his appearance before the House Intelligence Committee this week, pollsters said Wednesday, suggesting what one expert called a crisis of confidence in the nation’s top federal law-enforcement officer.

Only 17 percent of 2,092 registered voters surveyed last week said they have either a favorable or very favorable opinion of Mr. Comey, the FBI’s director since September 2013, according to the results of a Harvard-Harris Poll published Wednesday.

About 35 percent said they had either an unfavorable or very unfavorable opinion or Mr. Comey, however, indicating voters view the FBI chief negatively by a margin of roughly two-to-one.

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“Even in 1953, the height of McCarthyism, Gallup had 78 percent saying J. Edgar Hoover, Jr. was doing a good job and only 2 percent a poor job,” Harvard-Harris Poll co-director Mark Penn told The Hill, where the data first appeared Wednesday. “Comey’s ratings, which are two-to-one negative, suggest a crisis of confidence in his leadership as top law enforcement officer.”

Only 12 percent of Democrats said they had a positive opinion of Mr. Comey, compared to 41 percent who expressed an unfavorable view, The Hill reported.

Republicans, however, were effectively split: 26 percent of GOP respondents said they viewed Mr. Comey positively, compared to 27 percent who said otherwise.

A major chunk of respondents, meanwhile, either said they hadn’t heard of Mr. Comey or had no insight to offer. Roughly one-in-five voters told pollsters they “never heard of” the FBI director, while 29 percent declined to provide an opinion.

In the aftermath of his high-profile appearance this week on Capitol Hill, however, Americans’ knowledge and opinion of Mr. Comey could sway significantly upon the next round of polling. Wednesday’s results stem from surveys conducted between March 14 and March 16, days before Mr. Comey testified before the House Intelligence Committee with respect to Russia’s involvement in last year’s White House race, and confirmed for the first time the existence of an FBI probe devoted to investigating possible collusion between Moscow and President Trump’s campaign.

Chairman Devin Nunes, California Republican, claimed afterwards that Mr. Comey had cast “a big, gray cloud” over the Trump administration by acknowledging the investigation.

“The longer this hangs out here, the bigger the cloud is,” he said.

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