More Americans disapprove than approve of President Donald Trump’s decision last week to fire James Comey as director of the FBI, but the tempest in Washington over the dismissal has done little to reshape views of Mr. Trump among the public, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey finds.
Some 38% of people in the survey disapproved of the president’s decision to fire Mr. Comey, while 29% approved. About one-third said they didn’t know enough to have an opinion.
Views of Mr. Trump’s decision were strongly shaped by party affiliation, with few Republicans disagreeing with the president’s action and few Democrats supporting it.
Mr. Comey’s dismissal was politically sensitive and dominated the conversation in Washington last week, as the FBI chief had been overseeing an investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election and its possible ties to Trump campaign associates. Russia has denied any wrongdoing, and Mr. Trump has called any suggestions of collusion with the Kremlin a “hoax.’’
The new Journal/NBC News survey found that more than nine people in 10 had heard about Mr. Trump’s decision to fire the FBI chief, but there were few signs that it had changed impressions of the president.
Some 39% of poll respondents said they approved of Mr. Trump’s overall job performance, while 54% disapproved—almost identical to the results of a Journal/NBC News survey in April.
Less than 40% said they viewed Mr. Trump in a positive light, while about half said they held a negative opinion of him, a slightly weaker showing for the president than in April.
Asked about Mr. Trump’s day-to-day role in leading the nation, regardless of how they viewed his policy stances, some 41% said they had “a great deal’’ or “quite a bit’’ of confidence in the president, while 57% said they had not much or no confidence in him. Those marks were slightly weaker than in April, when 45% said they had high confidence in Mr. Trump, while 55% had said they had little or none.
As a whole, the public does not have a strong view of Mr. Comey himself, which may be a factor in how his firing reflected on Mr. Trump. More than half of people in the survey viewed the former FBI director neutrally or had no opinion. Among the rest, negative views outweighed positive ones, 26% to 18%.
The survey also asked people for their views of why Mr. Comey had been fired.
Asked whether Mr. Trump fired the FBI director to slow down the agency’s investigation into Russian meddling in the election, 46% said that was the case, while 36% disagreed.
Asked wither the dismissal was due to “legitimate concerns’’ about the way Mr. Comey had handled and released information about the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, 38% agreed, while 43% disagreed.