A CNN poll shows that a 53 percent majority of Americans approve of the US House of Representatives holding U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, a measure the House took last month as the standoff over the botched “gun-walking” operation Fast & Furious reached its peak. Thirty-three percent of Americans disapproved the action.
But that doesn’t mean Americans polled by CNN don’t question the motives of the contempt vote. A bigger majority, 61 percent, said that the vote’s purpose was to “gain political advantage,” while only 34 percent the vote represented “real ethical concerns.”The breakdown was partisan — a 73 majority of Republicans approved of the move, as well as 54 percent of independent voters. Democrats were opposed: 48 percent disapproved of the contempt vote while 37 percent approved. However, the interpretation of the vote cut the other direction — 79 percent of Democrats said it was political, along with 63 percent of independents. Sixty percent of Republicans said there were real ethical concerns.
But when it came to President Obama’s invocation of executive privilege, Americans took a hard view. When asked, “should President Obama and his aides continue to invoke executive privilege to protect the White House decision making process, or should they drop the claim of executive privilege and answer all questions being investigated?” a 69 percent majority said the administration should comply.
“Public opinion is identical to what it was when the shoe was on the other foot,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. “In 2007, when House Democrats were investigating the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys and the administration of Republican President George W. Bush was claiming executive privilege, Americans felt that the Republicans should answer all questions and that the Democrats were just trying to gain political advantage.”
The CNN poll used 1,138 live telephone interviews with Americans conducted June 28th to July 1st. It has a sampling error of 2.5 percent.