Donald Trump has repeatedly demeaned judges and intelligence officials. But new polling shows that Americans trust both of those groups more than they trust Trump.
For his whole career, Donald Trump has been trashing and smearing everyone who gets in his way. As president, two of his top targets have been the intelligence community and the courts.
But a new poll from NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist shows that, while trust in public institutions generally is weakening, Americans have a lot more confidence in the courts and in the intelligence community than they do in Trump.
Trump’s attacks on those two institutions may play well with his base, but the country as whole does not agree.
According to the poll, 60 percent of Americans trust the intelligence community “a great deal” or “a good amount,” versus 37 percent who say “not very much” or “not at all.” The figures are identical for the courts.
The Trump administration, on the other hand, is distrusted by a margin of 61 to 37.
The public simply isn’t buying Trump’s lies about the court system and the intelligence community.
From the outset, Trump painted intelligence officials as a “Deep State” of Obama loyalists secretly abusing their power to snoop, leak, and otherwise undermine him, and his attacks have only gotten louder as the Russia investigation continues to heat up.
He baselessly tried to claim they wiretapped him in Trump Tower on President Obama’s orders, and spent months resolutely denying U.S. spies investigating Russian election interference had any clue what they were talking about.
And in an effort to play down the investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia, he attempted to smear former FBI Director James Comey, by claiming that the department under his command was in “disarray,” and that FBI employees had no confidence in Comey as a leader. Comey himself emphatically labeled that claim as “lies, plain and simple” during his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Trump has also bashed the federal courts repeatedly, as they blocked his executive orders banning Muslims from the U.S. and extorting cities to hold immigration suspects without a warrant. He absurdly threatened to “break up” the Ninth Circuit.
And during the campaign last year, he claimed that the Indiana-born judge hearing a lawsuit against Trump University should recuse himself because of his Mexican heritage.
Trump may hope that by repeatedly attacking these institutions, he can cast doubt on any legal criticism they have of him and his agenda.
But in the eyes of the nation, he has not degraded judges or intelligence officials with his incessant gutter politics — he has only degraded himself.