Strong sup­port for Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion

The Mercury News Weekend - - NEWS - By Emily Guskin and Matt Zapotosky

WASHINGTON » More than twice as many Amer­i­cans ap­prove as dis­ap­prove of spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion of pos­si­ble co­or­di­na­tion be­tween Don­ald Trump’ s 2016 cam­paign and the Rus­sian govern­ment, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds, in­di­cat­ing that the con­ser­va­tive ef­fort to dis­credit the probe has fallen flat as the case has pro­gressed to­ward its first pub­lic charges.

A 58 per­cent­ma­jor­ity say they ap­prove of Mueller’s han­dling of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion while 28 per­cent say they dis­ap­prove, the PostABC poll finds. Peo­ple’s views de­pend in large part on their political lean­ings, but over­all, Amer­i­cans are gen­er­ally in­clined to trust Mueller and the case he has made so far.

Fewer than4 in 10Amer­i­cans say they be­lieve Trump is co­op­er­at­ing with Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion, while about half be­lieve he is not.

A sim­i­lar 49 per­cent think it is likely Trump him­self com­mit­ted a crime in con­nec­tion with pos­si­ble Rus­sian at­tempts to in­flu­ence the elec­tion, though more say this view is based on sus­pi­cion rather than hard ev­i­dence.

Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion en­tered a new phase this week as he re­vealed charges against three for­mer Trump cam­paign of­fi­cials: for­mer Trump cam­paign chair­man PaulManafort and his long­time busi­ness part­ner Rick Gates, as well as for­eign pol­icy ad­viser Ge­orge Pa­padopou­los.

Manafort and Gates were charged with crimes un­re­lated to their cam­paign work. In a 12- count in­dict­ment, the spe­cial coun­sel al­leged they en­gaged in a con­spir­acy to laun­der money and defraud the United States, stem­ming fromtheir at­tempts to hide their work ad­vis­ing a Rus­sia-friendly political party in Ukraine. A court hear­ing in their case was sched­uled for 2 p.m. Thurs­day.

Pa­padopou­los, pleaded guilty to ly­ing to FBI agents about the na­ture and tim­ing of his con­ver­sa­tions with for­eign­ers claim­ing to have high-level Rus­sian con­nec­tions. His plea, un­sealed Mon­day, de­scribes how he had ex­ten­sive talks to try to bro­ker a meet­ing be­tween cam­paign and Rus­sian of­fi­cials, and high­level mem­bers of the cam­paign seemed to en­ter­tain what he was do­ing - though some seemed to be wary.

The poll finds strong back­ing for the charges again­stManafort and Gates — nearly 7 in 10 ap­prove — and a gen­eral sus­pi­cion that more is to come.

A nar­row 53 per­cent­ma­jor­ity say those charges and the plea by Pa­padopou­los for ly­ing to the FBI rep­re­sented broader wrong­do­ing by peo­ple in­volved in Trump’s cam­paign while 28 per­cent think they are limited to these in­stances.

The Post-ABC poll finds pol­i­tics in­flu­ences peo­ple’s re­sponses, with 78 per­cent of Democrats and 56 per­cent of in­de­pen­dents ap­prov­ing of the way Mueller is han­dling the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, com­pared with 38 per­cent of Repub­li­cans. Peo­ple on both sides of the aisle are more uni­fied in sup­port­ing the par­tic­u­lar charges against Gates and Manafort. A 57 per­cent­ma­jor­ity of Repub­li­cans say they ap­prove of that case, as do 78 per­cent of Democrats.

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