President Donald Trump’s job approval rating hit an all-time high of 46 percent in a Gallup tracking poll at the end of April amid a strong economy and an initially positive spin on special counsel Robert Mueller’s report by the president’s advisers, the polling group noted.
The April 17-30 survey found a jump in the president’s approval from 39 percent in early March to 45 percent in early April. Gallup said the surge in approval coincided with strong economic growth, low unemployment, and gains in the stock market. The polling period also included Trump’s claims that the Mueller report vindicated him and ended before potentially damaging claims emerged that Mueller had questioned Attorney General William Barr’s handling of the report.
Looking ahead to the 2020 presidential election, Gallup said the poll illustrates the importance of the economy and the effect that the ongoing fallout from the Mueller investigation could have on Trump’s reelection chances.
More than 90 percent of Republicans approve of Trump, but he also saw an increase among Democrats, with 12 percent approving of the job he is doing as president.
Despite the polling uptick, Trump’s approval rating has stayed within a relatively narrow range, well below the highest approval ratings of his predecessors. He still faces strong opposition, with 50 percent of respondents expressing disapproval of his job performance.
The survey of 1,024 adults is part of periodic multiday polls that Gallup has conducted since Harry Truman’s presidency and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. —Anne K. Walters
President Donald Trump granted a full pardon Monday to former Army 1st Lt. Michael Behenna, who had been convicted of unpremeditated murder in the death of an Iraqi prisoner.
A military court convicted Behenna in the 2008 slaying of Ali Mansur Mohamed, a possible al-Qaeda operative suspected of planning an attack that killed several members of Behenna’s platoon. The Oklahoma native was sentenced to 25 years in military prison, but concerns surrounded the handling of the trial, including whether evidence that could have exonerated Behenna was kept from his lawyers.
The U.S. Army appellate court expressed concerns about how Behenna’s claims that he acted in self-defense were handled. A judge later reduced his sentence, and he was released on parole in 2014 after five years.
Behenna has admitted that he stripped Mansur and interrogated him without military authorization after investigators did not find enough evidence to hold him in the attack on U.S. troops. He claimed that Mansur was trying to attack him when he shot him. Trump pointed to questions about the trial as well as broad support for Behenna among former military officers and elected officials as reasons for granting the pardon.
Behenna thanked Trump, telling a news conference, “President Trump corrected what happened during my trial.” —A.K.W.
Microsoft announced Monday the upcoming release of new software that would enable individual vote tracking to heighten voter confidence in the integrity of the U.S. election system.
Russian hackers targeted more than 21 states’ voting systems in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. U.S. security officials fully expect the Russians or other foreign agents to try again in 2020, though there is no evidence that any of the attempts successfully tampered with any votes or final tallies in the last presidential election.
Microsoft’s program, ElectionGuard, would give each voter a unique, encrypted code that would follow the vote all the way through the system until it was counted. It would also give election officials and third parties another way to verify results.
The company plans to release the software free of charge for election technology providers to incorporate into their systems.
Microsoft partnered with computer science company Galois as well as the largest voting machine vender in the country, Election Systems & Software, to build and promote the technology. The software will also work with systems that use paper ballots.
A Microsoft official told NPR that the company expects to see a pilot form used in the upcoming 2020 presidential election and that broad use of technology could begin as soon as 2024. —H.P.