- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 8, 2018

Seven in ten Republicans surveyed said they consider special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 election to be a “witch hunt,” but most would rather see him finish the probe than fired, a poll revealed Friday.

A recent poll of 1,075 adults, including 835 registered voters, found that 71 percent of Republican respondents believe the special counsel’s investigation has become a “witch hunt” – a claim lobbied by President Trump as recently as Saturday morning.

Republicans are more inclined to see Mr. Mueller complete the special counsel’s investigation into the election than have it prematurely ended, however, according to the results of the survey conducted by The Marist Poll in partnership with NPR and PBS NewsHour.

Thirty-four percent of Republicans surveyed said the former FBI director should be fired as special counsel, compared to 51 percent who said he should be allowed to finish the investigation, the results revealed.

Among all adults, only a third of respondents, including a tenth of Democrats, said they believe Mr. Mueller is leading a “witch hunt.” Overall, 18 percent said he should be fired, and 67 percent said he should finish the probe.

Mr. Trump, meanwhile, has been anything but ambiguous with respect to his opinion of the probe. “Time for the Witch Hunt to END!” he tweeted Saturday.

The results of the poll stem from a telephone survey conducted between Nov. 28 and Dec. 4. Among the registered to vote, 33 percent identified as Democrat, 27 percent as Republican and 39 percent as Independent.

A spokesperson for the special counsel’s office declined to comment on the survey’s results when reached by The Washington Times over the weekend.

Director of the FBI for nearly 12 years under former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Mr. Mueller was appointed in May 2017 to lead the Department of Justice’s investigation into alleged Russian interference after his successor, James Comey, was fired by Mr. Trump. The FBI was investigating the Trump campaign at the time of Mr. Comey’s firing, and the special counsel’s probe has reportedly broadened to cover matters including his termination.

More than 30 people have been charged in connection with the special counsel’s probe, including a handful who have been convicted or pleaded guilty.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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