Trump's attacks backfire: Big majorities back Mueller and Sessions, while president's disapproval hits 60%, new poll says

  • Nearly two-thirds of American adults support Mueller's ongoing investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Friday.
  • Sixty percent of Americans now disapprove of Trump's job as president, a new high for the poll, according to the Post.
  • A 64 percent majority of Americans believe Trump should not fire Attorney General Sessions, as well.

President Donald Trump's attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller and Attorney General Jeff Sessions don't appear to be sinking in.

Nearly two-thirds of American adults support Mueller's ongoing investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Friday.

A majority of respondents – 52 percent — say they "strongly" support Mueller's probe. Twenty-nine percent said they oppose it.

There's also bad news for Trump's lawyers, who reportedly argued in a memo to Mueller that it's impossible for Trump to illegally obstruct justice, as more than half of Americans disagree.

Fifty-three percent say they think Trump attempted to interfere in Mueller's investigation in a manner that amounted to obstruction of justice.

It's a discouraging poll for Trump, whose regular talking points about the Mueller probe seem to be garnering more opposition than support among majorities of American adults. It also highlights the mounting pressure Trump faces from Democratic candidates hoping to retake the House of Representatives in the November midterm elections. Democrats have maintained a steady lead in generic ballot polls.

That appears to be taking a toll on Trump's overall approval rating, as well. Sixty percent of Americans now disapprove of Trump's job as president, a new high for the poll, according to the Post. Just 36 percent approve of Trump's job performance; 24 percent say they "strongly" approve.

The poll reflects sharp partisan divides over Sessions, the Mueller probe and Trump's handling of the presidency. But independents also tended to back Mueller and Sessions by significant margins.

Recent polling in general also suggests that Mueller has regained the upper hand in the public's perception of Trump's battle with the special counsel. Americans' disapproval of Mueller had been on the rise, but that appears to have reversed following a new wave of revelations about Trump associates – and as the president and his surrogates have beefed up their attacks on Mueller.

The Washington Post-ABC poll, conducted Aug. 26-29 from a random national sample of 1,003 adults, also shows a significant dip in Trump's approval compared with other recent surveys.

Polling from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal published Aug. 26, for instance, showed Trump's approval at 44 percent among registered voters.

That number also showed a decline from previous surveys, but it was largely attributed to legal bombshells relating to former associates in Trump's orbit, including his ex-lawyer Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was convicted on tax and bank fraud charges lodged by Mueller.

Political data site RealClearPolitics currently gives Trump an average approval rating of about 43 percent.

Although Trump has regularly berated Sessions for handing the reins of the Russia investigation over to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein by recusing himself, 62 percent of Americans take Sessions' side over Trump's on the issue of Mueller's probe.

Sessions recused himself shortly after failing to disclose in confirmation hearings his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Trump has not fired Sessions, who was among his earliest supporters in Congress during the 2016 campaign, but has instead chosen to repeatedly criticize the top Justice Department official in interviews and on Twitter. He told Bloomberg News on Thursday that Sessions was safe in his job until at least the November elections.

A clear 64 percent majority of Americans believe Trump should not fire Sessions. But surprisingly, far more Democrats than Republicans think Trump should keep Sessions, a former GOP senator, in his job: 75 percent of Democrats say Trump should not fire him, compared with 47 percent of Republicans.

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