Republican Voters Split on Whether Trump Can – or Should – Pardon Himself

Poll finds almost 6 in 10 voters overall say Trump should not pardon himself
President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the National Republican Congressional Committee March Dinner at the National Building Museum on March 20, 2018, in Washington. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI)
June 13, 2018 at 12:01 am UTC

Key Takeaways

  • GOP voters split at 34% when asked whether Trump should pardon himself.

  • 33% of Republicans say Trump can legally pardon himself, while 36% say it’s not legally permissible.

  • A 48% plurality of registered voters say Trump has tried to impede or obstruct the investigation into whether his 2016 presidential campaign had ties to Russia.

Republican voters are divided over whether President Donald Trump should pardon himself if he is found guilty of a crime related to the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 election – a stark contrast with voters overall who say he should not.

A Morning Consult/Politico poll -- conducted June 7-10 among 1,994 registered voters nationwide -- found GOP voters split at 34 percent when asked whether Trump should pardon himself, while 32 percent said they didn’t know or had no opinion.

Trump claimed the “absolute right” to pardon himself in a June 4 tweet, but added, “Why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?” Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a member of Trump’s legal team, said during an interview that aired a day earlier on NBC News that a self-pardon would “lead to probably an immediate impeachment.”

No president has ever pardoned himself before, and there is no legal consensus regarding whether its legal. When voters were asked if they think such an action is permissible, Republicans were split -- 33 percent said it is, with 36 percent disagreeing -- while 32 percent didn’t know or had no opinion. Fifty-eight percent of registered voters overall said it is not legally permissible.

Fifty-nine percent of voters said Trump should not pardon himself, a view shared by 63 percent of independents and 77 percent of Democrats.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Some Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), have said Trump should not pardon himself.

“No one is above the law,” Ryan told reporters June 6.

As special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation continues in its second year, a 48 percent plurality said Trump has tried to impede or obstruct the probe into whether his campaign had ties to Russia, up 4 percentage points since a February survey and 1 point higher than a similar March poll.

In the latest survey, a 47 percent plurality of independents and 79 percent of Democrats said Trump has tried to impede or obstruct the probe. Republicans largely stood by the president: Seventy percent said he has not impeded or obstructed the investigation, up from 69 percent in March, and 14 percent said he has, down 5 points from three months ago.

Views on the Justice Department’s handling of the Russia investigation have soured since March. A 40 percent plurality of voters overall say it has been handled unfairly, compared to 38 percent who say it has been handled fairly. In March, 33 percent characterized its handling as unfair, while a 43 percent plurality said it’s been fair.

A headshot photograph of Eli Yokley
Eli Yokley
U.S. Politics Analyst

Eli Yokley is Morning Consult’s U.S. politics analyst. Eli joined Morning Consult in 2016 from Roll Call, where he reported on House and Senate campaigns after five years of covering state-level politics in the Show Me State while studying at the University of Missouri in Columbia, including contributions to The New York Times, Politico and The Daily Beast. Follow him on Twitter @eyokley. Interested in connecting with Eli to discuss his analysis or for a media engagement or speaking opportunity? Email [email protected].

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