A new public opinion poll shows more Americans than not are opposed to President Donald Trump's firing of FBI director James Comey.
The NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey in recent days said just 29 percent of those surveyed say they approve of Trump's dismissal of Comey, who was in the fourth year of a 10-year term leading the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the country's top criminal investigating agency, while 38 percent disapprove. The remainder said they did not know enough to have an opinion.
But among those who have been closely following news of Comey's unexpected ouster, 53 percent said they disapprove and 33 percent approve.
Trump fired Comey on Tuesday, at first saying he accepted recommendations from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, that he be ousted because of the role he played last year in the investigation into Trump's presidential election challenger, Democrat Hillary Clinton, and the way she handled national security material on her private email server.
But by week's end, Trump said he had made up his mind to fire Comey regardless of the recommendations and was thinking of "this Russia thing" when he decided to dismiss Comey. The former FBI director had been leading the agency's investigation into the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 election and possible collusion between Trump campaign aides and Russian officials.
Trump said Saturday a new FBI director could possibly be named in the next few days, but whoever it might be is likely to undergo intense questioning at a Senate confirmation hearing, delaying the time when the appointee might actually take over control of the agency. Opposition Democratic lawmakers and some Republicans have called for a special prosecutor independent of the Department of Justice, which oversees FBI operations, to pursue the Russia probe.
"We can make a fast decision," Trump told reporters Saturday aboard Air Force One before flying to Lynchburg, Virginia to deliver a commencement address at Liberty University. He said it is possible he could appoint a new FBI director before heading Friday to the Middle East and Europe on his first overseas trip as president.
Nearly a dozen people are being considered, including attorneys, law enforcement officials, and lawmakers.
"I think the process is going to move quickly,” Trump said. “Almost all of [the candidates] are very well-known. They've been vetted over their lifetime, essentially. But very well known, highly respected, really talented people and that's what we want for the FBI."