Trump hits back at media as approval ratings fall

US President Donald Trump greeting the crowd at the US Women's Open golf tournament at his resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Sunday. In an ABC/Washington Post poll conducted last week, six in 10 respondents thought Russia tried to influence his 20
US President Donald Trump greeting the crowd at the US Women's Open golf tournament at his resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Sunday. In an ABC/Washington Post poll conducted last week, six in 10 respondents thought Russia tried to influence his 2016 election campaign, and among those who said so, 67 per cent thought Trump aides helped.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump has launched a fresh attack on the media, as a new opinion poll showed falling approval ratings in the sixth month of his term, and hours after news that his campaign made a payment late last month to the law firm later revealed to be representing his son Donald Trump Jr.

"With all of its phony unnamed sources & highly slanted & even fraudulent reporting, #Fake News is distorting democracy in our country," Mr Trump told his nearly 40 million Twitter followers on Sunday.

An ABC/Washington Post poll released on Sunday showed that Mr Trump's approval rating was at 36 per cent, down six points from a survey taken after his first 100 days. The previous president who came closest to that level after six months in office was Mr Gerald Ford, at 39 per cent, in February 1975.

Mr Trump tweeted about the ABC poll, saying that "even though almost 40 per cent is not bad at this time, (it) was just about the most inaccurate poll around election time".

About 63 per cent of those polled said it was inappropriate for Mr Trump's son, son-in-law Jared Kushner and then campaign manager Paul Manafort to have met a Russian lawyer offering information on Democrat rival Hillary Clinton. Six in 10 also thought that Russia tried to influence the election campaign and, among those who said so, 67 per cent thought Trump aides helped - similar to results in April.

The ABC poll was done via landline and mobile phone from last Monday to last Thursday, in English and Spanish, among a random sample of 1,001 adults. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 per cent.

Mr Trump also sent one of his private lawyers, Mr Jay Sekulow, to appear on five Sunday talk shows to argue that there was nothing illegal about his son's meeting with the Russian attorney last year.

An ABC/Washington Post poll released on Sunday showed that Mr Trump's approval rating was at 36 per cent, down six points from a survey taken after his first 100 days. The previous president who came closest to that level after six months in office was Mr Gerald Ford, at 39 per cent, in February 1975.

"What took place at the meeting... is not a violation of any law, statute or code," Mr Sekulow told NBC.

Mr Trump thanked former campaign adviser Michael Caputo in a tweet "for saying so powerfully that there was no Russian collusion in our winning campaign". Mr Caputo testified to the House Intelligence Committee last Friday as part of an investigation into Russian meddling in the United States presidential election.

The President also defended his son, saying he "is being scorned by the Fake News Media". Last Saturday, quarterly Federal Election Commission disclosures revealed a US$50,000 (S$68,400) payment made by Mr Trump's campaign to the law firm now working for Mr Trump Jr in the matter of the 2016 meeting with the Russian lawyer.

The President had been at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, since last Friday evening and planned to spend part of Sunday watching the US Women's Open golf tournament for a third day before returning to Washington.

Separately on Sunday, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey conducted over five days from July 8 showed that Mr Trump's job approval rating stood at 50 per cent in 439 counties across 16 states that fuelled his 2016 win, against 46 per cent who disapproved of his performance.

BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2017, with the headline 'Trump hits back at media as approval ratings fall'. Print Edition | Subscribe