M.N.: About half of the surveyed have no confidence in the FBI, and about 15% have “no confidence at all” in the FBI. 

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M.N.: About half of the surveyed have no confidence in the FBI. About 27% have “high confidence”, about 21% have some confidence, and about 15% have “no confidence at all” in the FBI. 

So the authors of this article are very wrong: “Confidence in the FBI is NOT High” (!), it is about 50/50 (although in line with the numbers on the other government institutions.)

The Public Isn’t Buying It! And I do not buy it either. I do not know why the authors had to present this very skewed and biased conclusion about this survey, they might have their own agenda. But the numbers speak for themselves.  

Michael Novakhov

12.13.17

The answer was striking:

The Public Isn’t Buying It: Confidence in the FBI is Very High 

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Memo to the President: Your attacks on the FBI aren’t working.

President Trump has apparently decided that attacking federal law enforcement is a good defense strategy in L’Affaire Russe. Conservative media outlets have picked up the cry, devoting hours of air time to the absurd proposition that the FBI is corrupt and biased in favor of Hillary Clinton—and against the President.

The other day, curious about the impact of such attacks on public opinion, we put a very simple poll in the field using Google Surveys. It asked one question, polled between December 5-7: “

The answer was striking:

The average confidence rating for the FBI in this poll measured in at 3.34. That  to any other institution we poll on, save the military, which had an average confidence score of 3.78. The question polled here is subtly different from our other polls, which measure confidence in institutions as protectors of national security. This one asks about confidence in general—on the theory that the President’s attacks on the Bureau have been general attacks, not limited to the national security function. That said, the FBI’s rating was notably higher than the next highest institution, the intelligence community more broadly, which had an average confidence measure of 3.04. Forty-seven percent of respondents give the FBI higher confidence ratings, either 4 or 5. And fully 74 percent repose at least some confidence in the Bureau—that is, give it at least a rating of 3. By contrast, only 26 percent give the FBI lower confidence ratings, that is a rating of only 1 or 2.

We don’t know what these numbers would have looked like before the President began his attacks. But support for the Bureau appears very strong. If he’s going to defend himself by tearing down the FBI, Trump has his work cut out for him.

Methodology

For this survey, we once again used , which is supporting this public opinion project with a large in-kind donation of access to its survey platform to ask a variety of questions related to national security. Respondents are internet users over 18 who answer “surveywall” questions on websites that use Google Opinion Rewards for Publishers to access content. Surveys appear on a network of more than 1,500 sites, including USA Today and the Financial Times. For more information on Google Surveys’ methodology, including questions regarding sampling bias and inferred demographics, please see  on the topic. Emma Kohse and Benjamin Wittes also discussed criticisms and advantages of the Google Surveys methodology at some length .


Lawfare (blog)
Public Confidence in the Mueller Investigations and Other Russia Investigations
Lawfare (blog)
In late November, as part of our monthly tracking of confidence in institutions engaged in national security activities, we polled for the second month on the question of “How much confidence do you have in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s fairness and and more »

Compare with this data:

Confidence in Institutions

See also: 

public opinion of the fbi – Google Search

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Trump’s campaign against Justice, FBI is working

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On the roster: Trump’s campaign against Justice, FBI is working – I’ll Tell You What: And that’s no bologna – Franken to resign – ‘Chuck and Nancy’ go to the White House, take two – Reeking her revenge

TRUMP’S CAMPAIGN AGAINST JUSTICE, FBI IS WORKING

It would seem that President Trump’s effort to discredit the FBI and the Justice Department amid the investigation into his 2016 campaign is working.

Just 46 percent of respondents in a new CBS News poll thought that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into “dealings between Trump associates and Russia” is justified, while 48 percent believed the probe to be “politically motivated.”

Why is that? It would seem that many Republicans and Republican-leaning independents simply don’t care if the allegations are true.

Consider that 67 percent in the same survey, including 43 percent of Republican respondents, believe “senior Trump advisors had improper dealings with Russia,” and yet, only half as many GOPers thought the probe was justified.

You could see why in watching Republicans questioning of FBI Director Christopher Wray today. It would have been easy to forget that Wray was only recently selected by Trump himself and confirmed in August with unanimous support of Senate Republicans.

Starting with House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Wray found himself peppered with questions about corruption and political bias in the agency, forcing him to repeatedly defend the integrity of the agents who serve under him.

This reflects the success of a two-pronged strategy by the White House. While the president’s criminal defense team and official spokespeople take a position of trust and cooperation with Mueller, Trump and his outside public defenders have been waging an all-out campaign against federal law enforcement agencies in a tit-for-tat battle with Mueller.

Most effectively, Trump has zeroed in on not the way his own case has been handled, but rather what he says is corruption in the other direction and highlighting what Trump says is the cover-up of his 2016 opponent’s criminal conduct.

This is key because it doesn’t require Trump to depend on him and his team to be eventually cleared in the probe. Rather, it suggests that the entire system is so shot through with corruption that it would be unfair to penalize one party but not the other.

A posting to Trump’s Twitter account summed it up neatly: “Rigged system, or just a double standard?” Either way, Trump’s telling his supporters that they can disregard Mueller’s findings.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has been a one-man wrecking crew on this front, bringing attention to instances that suggest political bias inside the FBI and Department of Justice.

He’s been pushing hard on the story of the agent who got yanked off the Trump probe over anti-Trump texts sent to a girlfriend last year and today we learned the story of Nunes’ pressure on the Justice Department over a lawyer who had previously undisclosed meetings with the head of a research firm hired by Democrats to dig dirt on Trump.

Both stories have helped Trump’s supporters shift the focus away from last week’s revelation that the president’s former national security adviser was cooperating with the Mueller probe. As it has been since we first learned of the Russian meddling a year ago, attacks on institutional corruption within federal law enforcement remain the best counteroffensive for the GOP.

Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy is among those who have cautioned about the dangers of conflating political bias with corruption. The argument is that if we accept the idea that individuals with their own political views cannot investigate individual on the other side there are plenty of cases that have to be thrown out.

But the imperative now for Republicans is to kick up enough dust around federal law enforcement agencies to offer some much-needed political cover. Not only do polls show that it’s working, history also agrees. Democrats successfully tarred the probe into corruption in the Clinton White House as a partisan witch hunt.

To be sure, it’s part of a larger trend. In 2015, the WSJ/NBC News poll found that 49 percent of American adults held positive views of the FBI. By this time last year, just 37 percent felt the same way, with 28 percent going as far as to express negative views about the federal police.

So we could say that the drop in esteem for federal law enforcement is just part of a larger trend of Americans losing confidence in institutions, but there is something else going on here. Republicans, after all, have typically been the ones most willing to trust police at every level.

Look for this trend to intensify in the New Year as Muller’s probe enters its terminal phase.

THE RULEBOOK: AND HOW!
“If we mean to be a commercial people, or even to be secure on our Atlantic side, we must endeavor, as soon as possible, to have a navy.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 24

TIME OUT: ‘NO COMPLAINTS’
Time: “As the United States marks National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day [today] … annual observances will once again ensure that Dec. 7, 1941, remains a date that lives in infamy. … As of the 75th anniversary commemorations last year, one estimate found that there were fewer than one million living American World War II vets total … survivors who were specifically present at Pearl Harbor on that day, that number is likely in the range of several thousand… That’s just one reason why Lt. Jim Downing … feels strongly about attending for as many years as he can. Downing was 28 at the time of the attack — which makes him one of the oldest living Pearl Harbor veterans. At the time, Downing was a member of the Navy … serving on the USS West Virginia at Pearl Harbor… ‘I’m 104 and I have no complaints,’ he told TIME, laughing…”

Flag on the play? – Email us at
HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.

SCOREBOARD
Trump net job-approval rating: -20.4 points
Change from one week ago: down 2.8 points

[President Trump’s score is determined by subtracting his average job disapproval rating in the five most recent, methodologically sound public polls from his average approval rating, calculated in the same fashion.]

I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: AND THAT’S NO BOLOGNA
This week Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss the Trump Administration recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, the Alabama Special Election and bologna…? Plus, Chris faces government shutdown themed trivia and find out why Dana is ‘one of those people’ when it comes to giving gifts. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE

FRANKEN TO RESIGN
Fox News: “Calling it ‘the worst day of his political life,’ Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken said Thursday he will resign from the U.S. Senate following a wave of sexual misconduct allegations against him that ranged from groping to forcibly trying to kiss women. Franken, who said that some of the complaints against him were ‘simply not true’ and that he remembers others ‘differently,’ also took a parting shot at President Trump. ‘There is some irony in the fact that I am leaving office while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office,’ he said… About 18 Democratic senators, staff and family members were on hand for the announcement. Some sat stone-faced while others cried. His staff were lined up in the back of the chamber. Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan was the only Republican senator present. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar were also in attendance.”

Minnesota lieutenant governor likely replacement pick – Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Lt. Gov. Tina Smith is likely to be Gov. Mark Dayton’s choice to replace Sen. Al Franken if he resigns as expected, which would set in motion a cascade of job openings and reshape Minnesota politics. A high-ranking Democratic source told the Star Tribune on Wednesday that Smith, a close ally to Dayton and longtime DFL insider, is his likeliest choice to replace Franken. Under that scenario, Smith would serve as a temporary replacement who would not run for the seat in a November 2018 special election.”

‘CHUCK AND NANCY’ GO TO THE WHITE HOUSE, TAKE TWO
Bloomberg: “President Donald Trump is meeting with congressional leaders from both parties Thursday to negotiate on a long-term budget deal as Congress prepares to pass a stopgap spending measure to avoid a U.S. government shutdown Saturday. The House is expected to vote on a two-week spending bill to keep the government open through Dec. 22, with Senate action coming by Friday. That measure is intended to buy time for Congress and the president to agree on overall levels for defense and non-defense spending for the next two years. Trump said Wednesday that a shutdown could happen Saturday because of Democratic demands. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said that Democrats aren’t interested in forcing the government to close. But she said Thursday that House Republicans will have to pass the stopgap funding without Democratic votes, calling the bill a ‘waste of time’ that doesn’t include funding for combating the opioid crisis among other things.”

Ryan says Republicans will get to spending cuts next year – WaPo: “House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said Wednesday that congressional Republicans will aim next year to reduce spending on both federal health care and anti-poverty programs, citing the need to reduce America’s deficit. ‘We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,’ Ryan said during an appearance on Ross Kaminsky’s talk radio show. ’… Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements — because that’s really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking.’ Ryan said that he believes he has begun convincing President Trump in their private conversations about the need to rein in Medicare, the federal health program that primarily insures the elderly.”

Poll: Independents mostly dislike GOP tax proposals – 
CBS News: “The Republican tax plan faces opposition from a majority of Americans. Over half disapprove of it – including four in 10 who disapprove strongly, and only one in five Americans expect their own taxes to go down.  Though the plan finds support from Republicans who believe it will help the economy overall, only one-third of Republicans expect their own taxes to go down. Large majorities of all political stripes believe the plan will help corporations and the wealthy, but only one in three believe it will help the middle class.”

TRUMP JR. MUM ON CALL WITH DAD ABOUT RUSSIA MEETING
WSJ: “President Donald Trump’s eldest son on Wednesday refused to discuss with congressional investigators a father-son conversation earlier this year about how to handle fallout from revelations that he met with a Russian attorney during the 2016 campaign, according to people familiar with the matter. During the more than seven-hour session with the House Intelligence Committee, Donald Trump Jr. invoked attorney-client privilege when asked for details about a telephone conversation he had with his father after news broke about his meeting with Russian attorney  Natalia Veselnitskaya, the people familiar with the matter said. The younger Mr. Trump has publicly said he met with the attorney to obtain negative information on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Attorneys for both the president and his son were on the call, which took place sometime after a July 8, 2017 New York Times story about the meeting, according to the people familiar with the matter.”

Christie claims he was sacked over Flynn – Politico: “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday he was ousted as head of President Donald Trump’s transition due in part to his opposition to the hiring of Michael Flynn as national security adviser. ‘I thought it was a significant reason,’ Christie said at an unrelated press conference at his office in Trenton. … Christie said it was clear those who took over botched the transition, pointing to Flynn’s guilty plea last week to charges of lying to the FBI. Christie has long said he had concerns about the retired three-star Army general, though he had never said exactly why. ‘Suffice to say, I had serious misgivings, which I think have been confirmed by the fact that he pled guilty to a felony in federal court,’ Christie said.”

The Judge’s Ruling: An unobstructed view – Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explains how the president could be in hot water: “Obstruction of justice is the interference with a law enforcement or judicial proceeding for a corrupt purpose. Thus, if the president knew of Flynn’s lies to the FBI when he asked [James Comey] to back off Flynn, the existence of a presidential crime and impeachable offense depends on the president’s state of mind. If the ‘back off Flynn’ request was given because the president felt sorry for the general or because he had concluded that the FBI’s limited resources would be better utilized finding terrorists or arresting bank robbers, there was no corrupt motive. But if the motive for the request to Comey was fear of what beans Flynn might spill … that would be a corrupt motive, and the request would be a crime, as well as an impeachable offense.” More here.

‘BE CAUTIOUS’ OF ALABAMA SENATE RACE POLLS
FiveThirtyEight: “Before Election Day last year, we advised caution… polls aren’t perfect at even the best of times… So what’s our advice heading into the Alabama election? Well, it’s the same — be cautious — but for slightly different reasons. A look at all U.S. Senate election polls since 1998 shows that their average error… is more than a percentage point higher than the average error in presidential polling. Also, Alabama polls have been volatile, this is an off-cycle special election with difficult-to-predict turnout…So even though [Roy Moore] is a favorite, Democrat Doug Jones is just a normal polling error away from winning. (Or, by the same token, Moore could win comfortably.) … But even if Alabama’s special election were just a normal Senate campaign with normal candidates, a lead in the low single digits would be far from secure. Simply put, Senate polling has not been especially predictive over the past 10 cycles.”

Polls haven’t swayed Ryan – The Hill: “Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Thursday reiterated his call for Alabama GOP Senate hopeful Roy Moore to drop out of the race over allegations of sexual misconduct, including assault. ‘I think he should have dropped out,’ Ryan told reporters at his weekly news conference. ‘Just because the polling has changed doesn’t change my opinion on that, so I stand by what I said before.’”

Moore camp fights back on attack ad, says ‘patently false’ –
 AL.com: “Roy Moore’s campaign calls an ad run by a political action committee opposing him ‘patently false’ and issued cease and desist letters demanding that TV stations stop running it. The PAC, called Highway 31, was formed to support the candidacy of Moore’s opponent, Doug Jones. The ad says, ‘Moore was actually banned from the Gadsden Mall … for soliciting sex from young girls.’ … The Moore campaign says the statement in the Highway 31 ad about ‘soliciting sex’ is a new false allegation. … As for the claim that Moore was banned from the mall because he ‘solicited sex from young girls,’ the Highway 31 PAC cited an article in New American Journal. The article did not name a source for that claim.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Trump pushing Gov. Paul LePage (R) to run against King in Maine Senate race – WaPo

Trump admin asks SupCo to overrule a labor precedent that helps unions – WaPo

House passes concealed carry gun bill – Politico

Don’t forget the soup! An inside look of a Sunday for Chris Wallace – Washingtonian

AUDIBLE: L-I-V-I-N
“I think those are conversations we’re going to have to have. But what have we always said? We don’t ever fear anything. We live our lives.” – U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on whether the U.S. will send athletes to South Korea for the Winter Olympics in February. 
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“The only lesson I see being learned from all the sexual harassment allegations in Washington is that people don’t care about it. Republicans did all they could to force President Clinton out and accomplished nothing. Then they acted on their pride and lost a couple Speakers of their own. Now they’ve learned. People don’t care about sexual harassment if it’s their guy. I honestly think Democrats are making a political mistake (not a moral one) by kicking out politicians that would be just fine if they stood up to it. Please don’t get me wrong. As a lifelong Republican this sickens me. But this column is about politics. And all I see is Republicans winning this battle.” – Allen Randal, Las Vegas
[Ed. note: That’s certainly an argument Democrats have been making, including some brazen few who have said so publicly. The argument here goes that Democrats are needlessly sacrificing their own while Republicans will just hold the line. They may be right in that voters just don’t care about sleaze anymore. Or it could be argues, I think more persuasively, that Democrats were simply doing it wrong before. They never, ever should have nominated Hillary Clinton. Aside from the obvious scandals of her own making, her active participation in destroying the reputations of the women who accused her husband of grievous misdeeds made her uniquely bad at prosecuting the case against Trump. I think Democrats are only just now seeing how great the price was for their decision to protect and defend Bill Clinton.]

“In November, 2016, I held my nose and voted for Trump. On December 12, I am faced with another bad selection, Roy Moore or Doug Jones (I am writing in Luther Strange). I fear when my grandchildren are of age to vote, they will seldom be able to vote for an honest person. Is this what politics in this country will look like for generations to come? Will we be faced again with electing the best of the worst?” – James Douglas, Wetumpka, Ala.
[Ed. note: I hear you, Mr. Douglas. But I would also suggest that perhaps the real problem here isn’t the rottenness of current politicians, but rather the importance they play in our lives. Part of this is the larger role government plays, but another consideration is the politicization of EVERYTHING in American life. Our culture has historically taken rather a dim view of politics and politicians. It suits a republic that holds in suspicion anyone who seeks power over their fellows. But as our culture has faltered, we have placed increasing stock in the role of political leaders. The issue may not be that the politicians have gotten that much worse but rather that we have forgotten to eye them warily enough as a species.]  

“Will John Conyers qualify for a hefty congressional pension? Does not resigning under a cloud disqualify him?” – James Ronan, Lake Wylie, S.C.
[Ed. note: Great question, Mr. Ronan! It wouldn’t have mattered weather Conyers had said he was resigning or retiring or if he had declared himself the shah of Iran. About the only way for a member of Congress to lose his or her pension is to be convicted of certain felonies, generally relating to public corruption. Conyers, 88, is in line for a $125,000 annual pension (80 percent of the current pay for a sitting congressman.) In an interesting wrinkle, Conyers wife, Monica, who actually was convicted of corruption charges and imprisoned for more than two years for taking bribes as a Detroit councilwoman, will be eligible to continue receiving after his death. She’s just 52, so that could be decades of payouts indexed to current congressional pay. They will also continue to be eligible to participate in the federal health insurance program.]    

Share your color commentary: Email us at
HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

REEKING HER REVENGE
KATU: “A package thief got a stinky surprise after messing with the wrong mom in Hillsboro [Ore.]. The mom, Angie Boliek, told KATU she was fed up after someone stole a package carrying her son’s Christmas baby pajamas. The child made his own contributions to her plan for retribution. … When she realized the package was stolen she got frustrated. … She taped up a box filled with 10 to 15 of her son’s dirty diapers along with a note reading, ‘Enjoy this you thief!’ and left it on the porch Sunday. By Monday evening she said the box was gone. How dirty were the diapers? ‘Well, he’s been sick the last week, so we’ll just leave it at that,’ Boliek said. … An officer told a KATU reporter — while laughing — that they don’t have any leads at this point in either the theft of the pajamas or the No. 2 package.”

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C.

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Americans Increasingly Frustrated With Government, Survey Finds

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The deeper you peer into the Pew Research Center’s pre-election report, Beyond Distrust: How Americans View Their Government, the more you realize that the voters in 2016 may be more interesting than the candidates.

Start with the first conclusion: Americans have a negative regard for the federal government—only 19 percent trust government to do the right thing all or most of the time, and elected officials are held in such low esteem that 55 percent of those polled for the report say ordinary Americans would do a better job of solving national problems.

At the same time, Americans have a long list of concerns they want addressed by the federal government—and in many cases, they like the way the federal government is dealing with them. Thirteen of the 17 federal agencies rated in the survey, for example, are judged positively. The public’s top three priorities in the survey—keeping the country safe from terrorism, responding to national disasters, and ensuring safe food and medicine—also receive three of the four highest “good job” ratings.

Is there a disconnect?

The report has an answer—and a few more questions. Based on a national survey, with 6,000 interviews between August and October 2015, the analysis builds on previous Pew Research Center reports on the government’s role and performance in 2010 and 1998. It also complements earlier polls conducted by the research center as well as American National Election Studies, Gallup, ABC News/Washington Post, and CBS News/New York Times, enabling the Pew study to track trust in government over the past five decades.

It is not a pretty picture.

The erosion of public trust in government began in the 1960s after peaking at an all-time high—77 percent—in 1964. “Within a decade—a period that included the Vietnam War, civil unrest, and the Watergate scandal—trust had fallen by more than half to 36 percent,” the new report notes.

After sliding to 20 percent in 1992, public trust reversed and climbed as high as 60 percent in the weeks after 9/11 in 2001.

But that moment passed quickly. Since then, a profound decline in public confidence, fueled by two costly wars, a deep recession, and angry partisanship, has proceeded steadily and deeply.

“The basic attitudes didn’t change much from 2010,” says Carroll Doherty, the Pew Research Center’s director of political research. “What’s different is the long period of distrust. You don’t realize what a deep hole we’re in. It’s striking in this case.”

Stan Collender has witnessed the slide from a front-row seat. Since the 1970s and his first job as a Capitol Hill legislative aide, Collender has become one of Washington’s top experts on the federal budget.

“What you have today is the reality that Washington is broken,” he says. “Shutdowns, debt limit stalemate, the House speaker quits, Congress disregards the budget, and [the Senate] won’t consider a Supreme Court nominee. Nobody is calling it a shutdown, but that’s what we have.”

What we also have is a more sharply defined electorate, starting with polarization.

The survey reinforced earlier Pew findings about the divide between the political right and left. Although nearly one-third of those interviewed described themselves as independents, their views coincided with partisan views so consistently that the difference between “independents” and either of the two major parties has become hard to measure. “In virtually all situations, these Republican and Democratic ‘leaners’ have far more in common with their partisan counterparts than they do with each other if combined in a single ‘independent’ group,” the report says.

The partisan divide is even larger among Americans who regard themselves as politically engaged— those who are registered to vote, vote regularly, and follow political developments. Only 6 percent of engaged Republicans trust the government all or most of the time, while 22 percent say they never do. Among Democrats, the comparable percentages were 27 percent who trust the government and 7 percent who never do.

Distrust is accompanied by frustration and anger. A majority of Americans (57 percent) say they’re frustrated with government, and another 22 percent say they’re angry—a vote of no confidence that has lasted a decade now. That attitude is found especially among those over 50, who are more than twice as likely to be angry as those between 18 and 29 years old (29 percent versus 12 percent), and among whites (25 percent compared with 17 percent of Hispanics and 12 percent of blacks).

Then there’s Congress. The country’s legislative body received a 69 percent negative rating, and for the first time in over two decades of polling, Congress was more poorly rated by the party in control of Congress than by the minority party. Only 23 percent of Republicans have a favorable view of Congress, while 31 percent of Democrats have a favorable view. The Supreme Court didn’t escape the public’s disdain either, with 42 percent rating it unfavorably, the highest level in 30 years.

The public’s confidence in its own political wisdom has also collapsed since the 1960s. There’s been a steady decline of people in the U.S. with a good or great deal of confidence in the political wisdom of the American people, dropping from 77 percent in 1964, to 64 percent in 1997, to 57 percent in 2007, to 35 percent today.

And there’s a larger picture. The distrust of the federal government coincides with the declining public confidence in institutions that historically were the foundation supporting America’s middle class—churches, unions, the entertainment industry, the media, and large corporations. These institutions provided jobs, protected workers, entertained and informed the nation, and were the places many people worshipped.

Despite this gloomy portrait, there were generally positive ratings for federal agencies, from the U.S. Postal Service to the Food and Drug Administration, including the FBI, the Social Security Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The exceptions were the Department of Justice, the Department of Education, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Pew’s Doherty notes a significant finding in the survey, what he calls “common ground.” Despite all the frustration, anger, and distrust, the survey revealed widespread support for the importance of the federal government in solving problems. Republicans and Democrats generally agreed on a federal role in protecting the nation from terrorism, responding to natural disasters, protecting food and medicine, and even managing immigration.

But that common ground collapses on safety net issues. “That’s where you see the big differences” between Democrats and Republicans—especially engaged Republicans, Doherty says. “This is where the real fault lines are.” Only 21 percent of engaged Republicans favor a government role in ensuring access to health care, compared with 83 percent of Democrats. There are similar gaps when Democrats and Republicans are asked about helping people get out of poverty and protecting the environment. There’s a more than 20-point gap for ensuring quality education, setting workplace safety standards, ensuring basic income for people over 65, and strengthening the economy.

Does this period of prolonged distrust have a consequence? That’s a concern for Dan Fagin, 2014 Pulitzer Prize winner for his book examining the chemical pollution of Toms River, New Jersey, and in particular the slow response of health and environmental regulators and the clusters of cancer cases that developed there. “The risk,” he says, “is that this distrust becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We lose faith in government, and so we cut budgets of the regulatory agencies and the regulators can’t do their jobs. So then we say, ‘See? We told you so.’”

“I hope that somewhere out there we rediscover our faith in government,” Fagin says. “I don’t see any alternative.”

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The Public Isn’t Buying It: Confidence in the FBI is Very High

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Memo to the President: Your attacks on the FBI aren’t working.

President Trump has apparently decided that attacking federal law enforcement is a good defense strategy in L’Affaire Russe. Conservative media outlets have picked up the cry, devoting hours of air time to the absurd proposition that the FBI is corrupt and biased in favor of Hillary Clinton—and against the President.

The other day, curious about the impact of such attacks on public opinion, we put a very simple poll in the field using Google Surveys. It asked one question, polled between December 5-7: “

The answer was striking:

The average confidence rating for the FBI in this poll measured in at 3.34. That  to any other institution we poll on, save the military, which had an average confidence score of 3.78. The question polled here is subtly different from our other polls, which measure confidence in institutions as protectors of national security. This one asks about confidence in general—on the theory that the President’s attacks on the Bureau have been general attacks, not limited to the national security function. That said, the FBI’s rating was notably higher than the next highest institution, the intelligence community more broadly, which had an average confidence measure of 3.04. Forty-seven percent of respondents give the FBI higher confidence ratings, either 4 or 5. And fully 74 percent repose at least some confidence in the Bureau—that is, give it at least a rating of 3. By contrast, only 26 percent give the FBI lower confidence ratings, that is a rating of only 1 or 2.

We don’t know what these numbers would have looked like before the President began his attacks. But support for the Bureau appears very strong. If he’s going to defend himself by tearing down the FBI, Trump has his work cut out for him.

Methodology

For this survey, we once again used , which is supporting this public opinion project with a large in-kind donation of access to its survey platform to ask a variety of questions related to national security. Respondents are internet users over 18 who answer “surveywall” questions on websites that use Google Opinion Rewards for Publishers to access content. Surveys appear on a network of more than 1,500 sites, including USA Today and the Financial Times. For more information on Google Surveys’ methodology, including questions regarding sampling bias and inferred demographics, please see  on the topic. Emma Kohse and Benjamin Wittes also discussed criticisms and advantages of the Google Surveys methodology at some length .

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The Early Edition: December 13, 2017 

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Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.

NORTH KOREA

The U.S. is ready to talk with North Korea “without preconditions,” but only after a “period of quiet,” Tillerson said yesterday at the Atlantic Council, noting that it would be unrealistic to call for talks with North Korea based on them coming to the table ready to give up their program – comments that seemingly demonstrate a shift in U.S. policy toward North Korea. Nicole Gaouette and Joshua Berlinger report at CNN.

“The President’s views on North Korea have not changed,” the White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement responding to Tillerson’s comments. Josh Delk reports at the Hill.

Trump has been pushing for China to rein in North Korea and “cut the oil off,” Tillerson said yesterday, Demetri Sevastopulo and Katrina Manson reporting at the Financial Times.

Tillerson also ruled out a containment strategy for North Korea, saying that Pyongyang would use its nuclear weapons as a deterrent and for commercial activity, and that the U.S. had already seen elements of nuclear technology sales in the marketplace. Paul Sonne reports at the Wall Street Journal.

The U.N. undersecretary for political affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, emphasized the “urgent need to prevent miscalculation and reduce the risk of conflict” in comments yesterday following his recent trip to North Korea to meet with top officials, saying that he had told the North Koreans that “they need to signal that they’re willing now to go in a different direction.” Edith M. Lederer reports at the AP.

Feltman said he believed he left “the door ajar” for future talks when he met with officials in Pyongyang, adding that though North Korea did not make any kind of commitment to talks, he “fervently” hopes that the “door to a negotiated solution will now be opened wide.” Michelle Nichols reports at Reuters.

North Korea’s scientists and workers would continue manufacturing “more latest weapons and equipment,” the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said yesterday, according to the state K.C.N.A. news agency, Reuters reporting.

ISRAEL-PALESTINE

The Palestinian people will not accept a role for the U.S. in the peace Middle East peace process “from now on,” the Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas said today, calling Trump’s recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital a “crime.” Zeynep Bilginsoy and Sarah El Deeb report at the AP.

“I invite all other countries supporting international law to recognize Jerusalem as the occupied capital of Palestine,” the Turkish President Reçep Tayyip Erdoğan said in remarks opening the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (O.I.C.) summit in Turkey, Ali Kucukgocmen reports at Reuters.

“The U.S. has never been an honest mediator and never will be,” the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a message on Twitter today, Rouhani also attended the O.I.C. meeting, Reutersreports.

“It seems some countries are very timid of the United States,” the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said ahead of the summit, accusing some Arab countries of issuing “very weak responses” to Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Tuvan Gumrukcu and Parisa Hafezi report at Reuters.

Israeli forces carried out airstrikes in Gaza this morning and struck a compound belonging to the Palestinian Hamas militant group in Gaza in response to rocket fire toward southern Israel, according to the Israeli military. The AP reports.

Erdoğan has been aggressive in his response to Trump’s decision and has threatened to cut diplomatic ties with Israel, Al Jazeera provides an overview of the Turkish president’s recent remarks on Israel and Palestine.

The relatively muted response in Palestine and the region to the change in U.S. policy reflects weariness, skepticism about the sincerity of those who have called for an uprising, or intifada, and the key issue now is what impact the announcement would have on the peace process and America’s ability to act as a broker. Rachel Elbaum observes at NBC News.

Jordan has been deeply critical of Trump’s announcement despite, according to Jordanian politicians and analysts, pressure from Saudi Arabia, U.A.E. and other Arab states to accept the change in U.S. policy, however Jordan may pay the price diplomatically and economically for an apparent rift in relations with Saudi Arabia. Ali Younes provides an analysis at Al Jazeera.

Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem was good for peace because it recognizes that the conventional approach to understanding the conflict has produced decades of diplomatic failure. The change in U.S. policy reinforces useful messages that “Israel is here to stay;” that Jews have a connection to the land and are not “foreigners or crusaders;” that U.S. and Israel have a strong relationship; and that the U.S. has a key role to play in Arab-Israeli diplomacy. Douglas J. Feith writes at Foreign Policy.

TRUMP-RUSSIA

Top F.B.I. agent Peter Strzok and F.B.I. lawyer Lisa Page exchanged texts calling Trump an “idiot” and a “menace,” Strzok was part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating the Russian interference in the 2016 election but was removed from his post in the summer, and a Justice Department watchdog has launched an inquiry into the texts. Brent Kendall and Aruna Viswanatha report at the Wall Street Journal.

The F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray declined to discuss the texts during testimony last week citing the ongoing investigation, but said that he would “hold people accountable after there has been an appropriate investigation.” Michael S. Schmidt, Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman report at the New York Times.

Strzok and Page played an important role in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, Devlin Barrett reports at the Washington Post.

The House Intelligence Committee interviewed Trump’s former campaign adviser Sam Clovis yesterday in a closed session, two Democratic lawmakers confirmed, Clovis has been under scrutiny after reports that he had encouraged a campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, to arrange a meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russian officials. Olivia Beavers reports at the Hill.

Mueller yesterday completed interviews with current and former White House witnesses which were part of his initial request, according to the White House lawyer Ty Cobb, the specific witnesses have not been named and it is unclear whether Mueller will seek follow-up interviews. Darren Samuelsohn reports at POLITICO.

Russia “interfered” in the U.S.’s democratic processes, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a closed-door meeting with U.S. diplomats yesterday, taking a different line to the president who has decried the Russia investigations as “fake news.” Spencer Ackerman reveals at The Daily Beast.

The office of the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff (Calif.) has denied that he or his staff leaked “non-public information” about Donald Trump Jr.’s testimony last week, defending the decision to inform the public of a witness’ noncooperation. Kyle Cheney reports at POLITICO.

IRAQ

There must be an effort to remove the “grassroots” of the Islamic State group in the region, the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told reporters yesterday, warning that the extremist group has an “unfortunately ability to recruit young people very quickly.” The AP reports.

U.S. and Iraqi officials have expressed concerns about consolidating the victory against the Islamic State group in Iraq, noting that reconstruction and stability are urgently needed to prevent the terrorists from making a comeback. Michael R. Gordon reports at the Wall Street Journal.

U.S.-led airstrikes continue. U.S. and coalition forces carried out 18 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq between December 4 and December 7. [Central Command]

IRAN

A Congressional deadline for re-imposing sanctions on Iran will be allowed to pass without action this week, congressional and White House aides said yesterday, meaning the decision would revert back to Trump, who must take a decision in mid-January whether continue to waive sanctions on Iran as part of the 2015 nuclear agreement. Patricia Zengerle reports at Reuters.

“I’m semi-hopeful we may be successful,” the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said yesterday, referring to a possible agreement between Congress and the White House on legislation relating to the Iran nuclear deal. Rebecca Kheel reports at the Hill.

YEMEN

At least 15 people have been killed and more than 30 wounded in suspected Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a, according to Yemeni Houthi rebel officials. Ahmed Al-Haj reports at the AP.

Russia has suspended its diplomatic presence in Yemen due to the situation in Sana’a, Russia’s R.I.A. news agency reported yesterday, saying that some diplomatic staff would temporarily be working from the Saudi capital of Riyadh. Al Jazeera reports.

A public display of the U.S.’s evidence that Iran is providing missiles to the Houthi rebels in Yemen is set to be unveiled by the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley at the Defense Intelligence Agency headquarters, according to officials. Courtney Kube, Carol E. Lee and Robert Windrem report at NBC News.

SYRIA

Russian and Syrian forces carried out bombing in southern Aleppo province and in the Damascus countryside yesterday, killing civilians in both locations, according to activists and a correspondent. Al Jazeera reports.

U.S. officials have challenged Russian President Vladimir Putin’s characterization of the war in Syria, saying that his declaration of victory against the Islamic State group was premature and a White House National Security spokesperson expressed skepticism about the ability of Syria to achieve peace and stability once the remaining Islamic State militants have been defeated. Phil Stewart reports at Reuters.

The Syrian opposition delegation has called for direct talks with representatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the U.N.-backed Geneva talks, Al Jazeera reports.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

Trump signed a nearly $700bn annual defense policy bill yesterday, the president said the signing of the bill accelerates the process of “fully restoring America’s military might.” Rebecca Kheel reports at the Hill.

Federal charges have been brought against Akayed Ullah, who has been accused of the attempted suicide bombing in central New York on Monday. Joseph Ax and Brendan Pierson report at Reuters.

A U.S. airstrike targeted an al-Shabaab vehicle laden with explosives in Somalia yesterday, the U.S. Africa Command said in a statement, Ellen Mitchell reporting at the Hill.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson engaged in an outreach effort yesterday to try and dampen criticism of his reorganization of the State Department and his management style, seeking to change the narrative about him amid rumors that he is soon to leave his position. Carol Morello reports at the Washington Post.

The future of five Guantánamo Bay prisoners cleared by the U.S. to leave the base are in doubt as the Trump administration has not released any prisoners and not added any to the list of cleared to go home. Ben Fox reports at the AP.

The International Criminal Court (I.C.C.) Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda called on the U.N. Security Council to prioritize action on the “outstanding warrants of arrest issued by the Court,” noting that the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has recently travelled to countries and was not arrested. The U.N. News Centre reports.

The lack of progress toward parliamentary elections in Afghanistan has raised fears that the government would collapse despite Western officials’ efforts to support President Ashraf Ghani, the continuing instability could undermine the security situation and the ability to combat the Taliban and the Islamic State group. Mujib Mashal explains at the New York Times.

The isolation of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Egypt and Bahrain “does not undermine America’s core interests in the Middle East” and military cooperation, the U.S. should let the Gulf countries battle politically over extremist ideologies. Jonathan Schanzer writes at the Wall Street Journal.

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M.N. Many people, including his own Secretary of State, called Mr. Trump “an idiot”. So what? This name calling does not, in and by itself, make him necessarily “an idiot”, no more and no less than his name-callers are themselves. 

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M.N. Many people, including his own Secretary of State, called Mr. Trump “an idiot”. So what? This name calling does not, in and by itself, make him necessarily “an idiot”, no more and no less than his name-callers are themselves, and this is not necessarily a sign of the name-caller’s in question implied or assumed … Continue reading “M.N. Many people, including his own Secretary of State, called Mr. Trump “an idiot”. So what? This name calling does not, in and by itself, make him necessarily “an idiot”, no more and no less than his name-callers are themselves. “

M.N.: I do not really think that there is a need for the “second special counsel”. Just investigate the FBI, and the DOJ, if indicated. 

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M.N.: I do not really think that there is a need for the “second special counsel”. Just investigate the FBI, and the DOJ, if indicated. American Spectator Trump’s lawyers want second special counsel as Republicans turn up the heat on Mueller investigation Los Angeles Times They cite financial contributions to Democrats by some of Mueller’s team of prosecutors, the transfer of … Continue reading “M.N.: I do not really think that there is a need for the “second special counsel”. Just investigate the FBI, and the DOJ, if indicated. “

4:06 PM 12/12/2017 – Former police officer argues FBI pushed him to support terrorism – Washington Post 

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Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! Not for the criminals whom they cannot catch because they are not capable of solving their crimes, but for themselves, for the years of abuse of power, lying to the American people… pic.twitter.com/nVviEklIuq Putin Ordered Theft Of Clinton’s Emails From DNC, Russian Hacker … Continue reading “4:06 PM 12/12/2017 – Former police officer argues FBI pushed him to support terrorism – Washington Post”

Trump Still Has Faith in FBI Chief Despite Avalanche of Troubling Revelations

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President Donald Trump still has faith in his FBI director, Christopher Wray (pictured above), according to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

“The president has confidence in Director Wray and his ability to clean up some of the mess left behind by his predecessor [James B. Comey],” Sanders told members of the press during the Tuesday afternoon briefing. “He certainly has confidence in the rank-and-file members of the FBI.”


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