Should Kushner lose his White House gig?

March 12, 2018

More than half of Americans (55%) say that it worries them that President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has had access to top-secret information during the past year, while 41% say it is not a problem, based on findings of a Monmouth University Poll among 803 U.S. adults  released on March 7.

Kushner’s security clearance was taken down a peg in late February by Chief of Staff John Kelly, after the POTUS, himself, disencumbered himself from the political and personal decision.

Since the 2017 inauguration, Kushner had been working at the White House in a senior adviser role that enabled him to read top-security reports prepared for the president’s eyes (and those of his most-trusted and highly vetted staff) only.

His security clearance has now been downgraded to “secret”—representing a substantial diminution of his access and power.

The Monmouth poll finds that the public is divided on the role that the Trump family business plays in administration policymaking. Overall, 43% believe that the personal financial interests of Trump family members have too much influence on policy decisions made by the president. Another 20% say these personal interests have an acceptable amount of influence and 31% say they have no influence on presidential decision-making.

Few Americans (24%), though, think it is a good idea that the president’s son-in-law is working in the White House as an unpaid senior adviser. Fully 6-in-10 (60%) think it is a bad idea.

A majority (55%) of respondents to the Monmouth poll also think that Kushner should resign from his position, while 33% say he should continue working in the White House.

About six out of ten (62%) of those polled had already heard about Kushner’s security clearance downgrade before being interviewed and, among this group, 57% say his prior access to top-secret information worries them with 61% saying Kushner should resign.

Most Americans (57%) say that the Trump family’s personal financial interests or other ties to Russia definitely (29%) or probably (28%) influence the way Trump deals with that country’s government. Less than 40% say these ties do not play a role in the president’s approach to Russian relations (19%, probably no;t and 17%, definitely not).

The public is divided on whether the Trump administration may be too friendly toward Russia. For the president himself, 52% are concerned that Trump is too friendly and 46% are not concerned. Similarly, 52% are concerned that other members of the administration are too friendly and 43% are not concerned about this.

The public also is divided on whether Trump’s attitude toward Russia presents a national security threat: Fully 50% say it does and 45% say it does not. These results have not changed significantly from polls taken last year. Specifically, concern that Trump is too friendly toward Russia has ranged from 48% to 54% since he took office.

“When it comes to how Trump deals with Russia, the American public seems to have locked in their views months ago. Actions taken, or not taken, by the administration and revelations about the investigation over the past year have done little to move this opinion,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

The poll finds, though, that nearly two-thirds (64%) say the Russian government is definitely (26%) or probably (38%) trying to interfere in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections. And nearly three-quarters of Americans say that Russia definitely (43%) or probably (30%) interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.

The 73% who now believe in the likelihood of Russian interference in 2016 is up from 65% who said the same in July 2017.

Research contact: pdmurray@monmouth.edu

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