Trump’s Reality Tremor

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Russe, Polls, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

For all of Trump’s outward swagger, signs are mounting that the White House is deeply rattled. Federal prosecutors now claim Trump personally directed a conspiracy to secure his election in the form of illegal hush-money payments. We’ve learned that Trump negotiated business dealings with Russia throughout the GOP primaries, which he concealed. And there are solid grounds for believing Mueller still hasn’t tipped his hand on all he has learned about Trump campaign conspiracy with Russia’s sabotage of our election or on Trump’s efforts to obstruct justice.

In the wake of this news, Axios now reports that a “reality tremor” has coursed through the White House, noting that “top officials” are “growing more anxious about Trump’s reelection prospects,” and that even some hard-core outside allies were “rattled by the specificity” of the latest revelations. The Associated Press reports that the news is “unnerving some of his fellow Republicans,” who now fret about his reelection chances that “the turmoil has left him increasingly vulnerable.”

And although his base remains steadfast, the polls show that Trump is not gaining ground with the public.  A new CNN poll finds that Trump’s approval rating is mired at 39 percent, and it shows that even as ongoing investigations involving Trump and his orbit are bearing fruit, the American people continue to support the probe and believe it is turning up evidence of wrongdoing. The highlights:

  • Only 29 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the Russia investigation, down from 33 percent last month, while the percentage disapproving has risen to 57 percent.
  • 50 percent say special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe is very or somewhat likely to implicate Trump personally in wrongdoing, vs. 43 percent who say it won’t.
  • A plurality of 44 percent say Trump did something unethical by concealing his effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow while campaigning for president, while another 26 percent say he did something unwise, and an abysmal 23 percent say he did nothing wrong. That last one, by the way, is Trump’s position.
  • 59 percent say Russian interference in the election is a serious matter that should be investigated, vs. only 35 percent who say it’s about discrediting Trump’s presidency — i.e., that it’s what Trump calls a “witch hunt.”
  • 54 percent say the things Trump has said about the investigation are completely or mostly false, vs. only 36 percent who say they’re true.

Not good for the President.