Most Americans thought President Donald Trump was wrong in firing FBI Director James Comey, and a plurality think he did it because of the Russia investigation.
NBC News|SurveyMonkey conducted an online poll among 3,746 likely voters on Wednesday and Thursday on perceptions of Comey’s firing. Trump fired Comey Tuesday night, originally citing recommendations by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Letters by the two Department of Justice officials pinned Comey’s ouster on the way he handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Trump said in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt Thursday that he planned to fire Comey before he received the recommendation.
The poll found 54 percent of Americans think Trump’s dismissal of Comey was “not appropriate,” and 46 percent think Trump did it because of the Russia investigation. Another 24 percent thought the firing was truly due to the Clinton email investigation and 22 percent said they thought it was something else.
Despite most disapproving of Comey’s firing, only 25 percent approved of how Comey was doing his job, 34 percent approved of how he was doing on the Russia investigation and 19 percent approved of his handling of the Clinton email investigation.
Reaction to the firing in Congress has been mixed, but both Democrats and Republicans have condemned the way Trump handled Comey’s termination. Trump was reportedly surprised at the backlash to the announcement Tuesday.
A majority of likely voters also believe allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to interfere with the presidential election is a serious issue, and Comey’s firing makes them less confident in the prospect of a fair investigation.