Mueller Has Higher Approval Ratings Than Trump in Handling of Russia Investigation, Poll Says

Robert Mueller testifies during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 19, 2013, in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, has higher approval ratings in his handling of the matter than the president; meanwhile, most Americans doubt Trump's statements around the inquiry, according to a CNN poll released Thursday.

The poll found that Mueller’s handling of the investigation garnered a 47 percent approval rating, while only 32 percent of those polled approved of the way that Trump has handled the situation.

Respondents didn't have much faith that Trump is telling the truth—about 56 percent of people said that they think things he's said publicly about the investigation into potential Russian interference in the election have been false, and 24 percent said they believe his statements have been “completely false.” On the other hand, 35 percent felt they were true, and 8 percent thought his statements were “completely true.”

170442395 Robert Mueller is sworn in during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on June 13, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Mueller’s handling of the probe doesn’t have support across the board. Unsurprisingly, 46 percent of Republicans said they disapprove of the way he's handling things, and about 53 percent of people who identify as Trump supporters disapprove of Mueller. 

The groups that had the least support for Mueller, and agreed that the investigation is “mainly an effort to discredit Donald Trump’s presidency,” were white, non-college graduates, Republicans overall, and people aged 50-64 years old.

Mueller's overall approval ratings were higher than the president’s. The poll, which interviewed 1,001 adults over the phone from December 14-17, shows a sharp divide across party lines, but it’s the portion of self-described conservatives who view Trump’s handling of the investigation negatively that tips his number downward.

The investigation, which has resulted in two indictments and two guilty pleas, has been repeatedly criticized by Trump, who has characterized it as a “witch hunt” to bring him down, igniting worries that he could dismiss Mueller before the investigation is complete. Intelligence agencies in the U.S. have concluded that Russia did in fact meddle in the 2016 election to swing it toward a Trump win, NBC reported.

More than nine in 10 Democrats say potential Russian meddling should be fully investigated, while almost eight in 10 Republicans say it's just an effort to discredit the president, according to CNN. The 16 percent of Republicans in this poll who see the Russian interference as a serious matter worthy of investigation is the lowest figure yet. Similar questions have been posed in previous iterations of the CNN poll, starting in early August.