The Washington Post


They see the Russia investigation as President Trump does, as a witch hunt that has expanded far past its preliminary mandate with the express goal of delegitimizing or maybe even overturning his 2016 election victory.

But these most steadfast of Trump supporters, who had been amongst these gathered right here Tuesday evening as a part of a spotlight group evaluating public opinion, mentioned the president mustn’t fireplace particular counsel Robert S. Mueller III, a view shared by the Trump critics across the desk.

“Folks can be suspicious,” mentioned Betsy Novak, 55, a greenhouse employee who voted for Trump.

“It [would be] hiding one thing,” mentioned Curt Hetzel, 48, a delivery and receiving supervisor who additionally voted for Trump.

“Politically, it might be a horrible concept,” mentioned yet one more Trump backer, Sam Goldner, 25, a warehouse supervisor.

These three had been among the many 12 women and men assembled for a two-hour focus group on this Milwaukee suburb, a perennial suburban swing space in a state that helped propel Trump to a shock victory and is house to aggressive Senate and gubernatorial contests this fall.

The opinions voiced right here Tuesday evening about Trump’s governing file and conduct in workplace — in addition to the intensifying Mueller investigation — largely cut up alongside social gathering traces, a vivid illustration of the deep divides throughout the nation forward of the November midterm elections.

“Partisan America is alive and properly in Wisconsin,” Peter D. Hart, a longtime Democratic pollster who led the main focus group right here on behalf of Emory College, mentioned in reflection. “I felt that individuals are fairly frozen in place. The one factor they agreed with was Robert Mueller shouldn’t be fired. That’s about as shut as they get to a unified place.”

The dozen individuals had been chosen as a part of Emory College’s “Dialogue with America” focus group collection due to their various backgrounds and since they make up a cross-section of political attitudes, although their statements should not a scientific illustration of general opinion.

Requested to call their favourite president of their lifetimes, half mentioned Ronald Reagan, three mentioned Barack Obama and one every mentioned Trump, Invoice Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

General, they had been pessimistic in regards to the state of the nation as Trump nears 500 days in workplace, with all however two saying the nation was extra divided than it’s united. They overwhelmingly used destructive phrases to explain America right this moment: “Frenetic,” “dangerous,” “tense,” “chaotic,” “uncivil” and “indecisive.”

“We’re continually battling,” mentioned Michael Ross, 36, a judicial assistant who supported Hillary Clinton over Trump.

Although the group was fast to offer Trump credit score for the regular economic system, job development and adjustments to the tax code, additionally they blamed the president for a number of nationwide illnesses — from racial unrest to a decline in credibility and an intentional blurring of the reality by disputing information.

All 12 of the assembled voters mentioned they had been following information in regards to the Mueller probe, and their views of the particular counsel had been coloured by their emotions in regards to the president. Those that oppose Trump described Mueller as “clever,” “revered,” “good,” “diligent” and “unstoppable.” However Trump’s supporters referred to as the previous Marine Corps captain and FBI director “unethical,” “determined,” “partisan” and “a liar.”

Meredith Legree, 36, a doctor assistant who voted for Trump, mentioned, “This investigation’s ongoing as a result of individuals aren’t completely satisfied that Trump is in energy they usually’re in search of any approach to get him out.”

However Michelle Value, 52, a medical analysis assistant who voted for Clinton, mentioned Mueller should maintain following the information. Of Trump, she mentioned, “his character is making me consider that [collusion] did occur. I need them to maintain investigating and let me know for positive.”

Added Atanu Deb Baruah, 48, a advertising director who additionally backed Clinton, “Let the investigators proceed. Allow them to do their job. Let’s not attempt to impede.”

Trump’s opponents delivered even scathing assessments, indicating that the president has important work to do to increase his base of help. Two individuals referred to as him “untrustworthy,” and others mentioned he was “immoral,” “not credible,” a “liar” and “disgusting.”

Why disgusting?

“I’ve a daughter,” mentioned Steven Midthun, 54, a public faculties librarian who voted for Clinton.

However Trump’s backers mentioned they noticed the president as a daring innovator who has been misrepresented by the media.

“He’s not given a good shot,” Novak mentioned.

The main focus group contributors spoke with specific disdain for leaders in Congress. Requested to evaluate Home Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who represents a close-by district and is retiring on the finish of the yr, they had been lukewarm, describing him as “a superb individual” and “good” however “not the correct persona for the job” and “finished.”

Requested about Home Minority Chief Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who may succeed Ryan as speaker ought to Democrats retake the Home majority, 10 of the 12 individuals used destructive descriptions. She was described as “hyperbolic” and “unethical,” and 5 individuals mentioned she was both “too previous,” “finished” or “time to retire.”

A few of the Trump backers confirmed flashes of dissatisfaction with the president. Requested to explain him in a single phrase, Hetzel selected “egotistical,” explaining, “He’s so used to simply getting his approach.”

Hetzel and different Trump backers agreed that their greatest disappointment within the president has been his tweets and selections to interact on what they see as petty points.

“It’s nearly infantile,” Hetzel mentioned. “You’re a 70-something-year-old man and also you’re president of the US. You have to be a bit of extra mature and decide higher topics to be tweeting about.”

One other supporter of the president, Randy Cera, mentioned Trump’s tweets make him weak within the media.

“The tweets are gas for the fireplace,” mentioned Cera, 52, an insurance coverage agent. “It helps validate the negativity.”

Regardless of their misgivings, nevertheless, these voters exhibited loyalty to Trump — going as far as to proceed the president’s private feud with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), whilst he’s at house battling mind most cancers. McCain has tangled with Trump and opposed high-profile administration priorities, and this previous week the White Home has refused to apologize for communications aide Kelly Sadler joking in an inside assembly about McCain being irrelevant as a result of “he’s dying anyway.”

Whereas different focus group contributors referred to as McCain heroic or robust or patriotic, Cera mentioned the Arizona senator was “petty.” And Stephen Rozmenoski, 66, a machinist, labeled him a “turncoat,” presumably due to his vote in opposition to the Republican health-care invoice final yr, for which Trump repeatedly has attacked McCain.

“If anyone has a doubt about how strong the Trump core is, come take heed to this group,” Hart mentioned. “They couldn’t even discover a good phrase to say about John McCain.”

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