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New poll says Trump removing Mueller would be bad news for the GOP in 2018

Americans in 99 battleground districts oppose Mueller’s removal from the Russia investigation.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller Briefs Senate Intel Committee On Capitol Hill Alex Wong/Getty Images

A new poll by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, first reported by USA Today, found that roughly two-thirds of Americans in 2018 battleground districts would “disapprove” of President Donald Trump removing special counsel Robert Mueller from the investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

The poll, which focused on 99 districts that were identified as competitive for the 2018 midterm elections, also found that 44 percent of people in these districts would “strongly” disapprove of Mueller’s removal.

Additionally, the poll, which USA Today reported was funded by a group of liberal organizations including MoveOn, End Citizens United, American Bridge, and Stand Up America, focused on majority Republican districts with 70 of the districts polled currently being held by Republican and the 29 others being currently held by Democrats.

This poll comes amidst news Thursday that Mueller has formed a grand jury as part of the Russian investigation which, as the Wall Street Journal noted, indicates a potential shift to charging people with crimes rather than simply investigating.

While Trump had said that Mueller expanding his investigation beyond collusion would be a violation, he refused to say whether he would actually fire Mueller, because he didn’t think such an expansion would occur. However, this is exactly what Mueller did because, as CNN reported, potential financial crimes were a more “fertile” path forward.

The bombshell news of Mueller’s grand jury came after the announcement earlier in the day of two bipartisan bills designed to protect Mueller from firing. The first, from Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Chris Coons (D-DE), would give Mueller options to respond to his removal. As Vox’s Jeff Stein wrote:

[The bill would] allow Justice Department special counsels, like Mueller, to challenge their removals in court. A three-panel judge would then get to adjudicate the challenge — meaning Trump could be overruled should he try to fire the special counsel.

Another bill, from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), would force the DOJ to go before a panel of judges before the removal, putting the burden on the Trump administration to prove that Mueller’s actions warranted removal.

The Greenberg poll additionally found that 69 percent would oppose the president pardoning his aides or family members. Public opinion might be the only thing preventing the president from using his near-limitless pardon power to preemptively protect those who could be implicated by the investigation.