HALF of U.S. Republicans say federal law enforcement officials behaved irresponsibly since searching former President Donald Trump’s Florida home for classified documents taken from the White House, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found this week.
FBI agents on August 8 removed 11 sets of classified records from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, some of which were labeled “top secret,” a status reserved for the most sensitive U.S. national security information.
Trump announced that the search had taken place and has alleged without providing evidence that it was a politically motivated act, while Democratic President Joe Biden’s Justice Department has said it is applying the law impartially.
The two-day Reuters/Ipsos poll completed on Wednesday suggests Republican voters could be largely siding with Trump despite the Republican Party’s longstanding support for law enforcement.
Still, a significant slice of Republican respondents backed the FBI in the poll, a view closer to those of prominent Republicans such as former Vice President Mike Pence who on Wednesday called on the party to stop attacking the agency.
Fifty-four percent of Republican respondents said the FBI and Justice Department have behaved irresponsibly following the Mar-a-Lago search, compared to 23% who said they behaved responsibly. The rest said they didn’t know.
Views on the unprecedented search reflect the nation’s polarized politics. While Republicans have mostly lined up behind Trump, 71% of Democrats and about half of the independents said federal law enforcement has acted responsibly.
Four days after the search, the Justice Department confirmed it was investigating whether the Espionage Act had been violated when documents were removed from the White House and taken to Trump’s home.
U.S. media organizations on Thursday will ask a federal judge to release the evidence that the Justice Department submitted to convince a court it had probable cause to believe a crime had been committed.
Trump remains wildly popular among Republicans and is considering a 2024 presidential run.
The FBI has warned that threats against federal law enforcement have increased since the Mar-a-Lago search.
Concerns about political violence have surged since the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters who tried to stop lawmakers from certifying Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.
Three days after the search of Trump’s home, an armed man with right-wing views tried to breach an FBI office in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was shot dead by police following a car chase and gun battle.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that 85% of Americans think it is unacceptable for someone in their political party to commit violence to achieve a political goal. But among Republicans and Democrats alike, 12% of respondents said that kind of violence was OK.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll is conducted online in English throughout the United States. The latest poll gathered responses from 1,005 adults, including 436 Democrats and 387 Republicans. It has a credibility interval – a measure of precision – of four percentage points.