Strong support for Russia investigation
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.