World

Trump back on the attack after Paris break

WASHINGTON US President Donald Trump, fresh from a political holiday in Paris, went back on the offensive yesterday as a new poll showed his popularity dropping amid doubts about Russian election meddling and deepening frustrations over stalled healthcare legislation.

In a tweet early yesterday morning, Mr Trump used some of his toughest language against a favoured target, the press, saying: "With all of its phony unnamed sources & highly slanted & even fraudulent reporting, #Fake News is DISTORTING DEMOCRACY in our country!"

Mr Trump also sent one of his private lawyers, Mr Jay Sekulow, onto five Sunday talk shows to argue that there was nothing illegal about his son Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting last year with a Russian attorney following a promise of damaging information on Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

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

He repeated an earlier assertion that Mr Trump is not the subject of any current investigation into alleged Russian efforts to tilt last year's election in the Republican's favour.

The concerted pushback came as a Washington Post-ABC News poll near the six-month point in Mr Trump's administration showed him facing significantly declining approval ratings, down from 42 per cent in April to 36 per cent today.

Similarly, the president's disapproval rating has jumped five points to 58 per cent, according to the survey of 1,001 adults.

Mr Trump responded to the survey in a tweet, saying: "The ABC/Washington Post Poll, even though almost 40% is not bad at this time, was just about the most inaccurate poll around election time!"

DISAPPROVE

Nearly half of respondents - 48 per cent - said they "disapprove strongly" of the president's performance in office, a low level never reached by ex-presidents Bill Clinton or Barack Obama, both Democrats, and reached only once by George W. Bush, during his second term.

And 48 per cent said they saw American global leadership weakening since Mr Trump entered the White House, while 27 per cent said it is stronger.

That would seem to show mixed results, at best, from a series of high-profile foreign visits by Mr Trump, including to Saudi Arabia and to a Group of 20 meeting in Germany, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mr Trump's Bastille Day visit to Paris came a day after the poll ended.

Two-thirds of respondents said they do not trust Mr Trump, or trust him only somewhat, in negotiating with foreign leaders.

Republicans' legislative struggles may also be weighing on Mr Trump's popularity. Twice as many of those surveyed preferred the Obamacare health programme over the Republican plan to replace it. - AFP

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