American opinions on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election appears hardened and driven by partisanship, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS after a month rife with developments in the ongoing probe.
CNN Poll coverage
Overall, 6 in 10 say they see the investigation as a serious matter that should be fully investigated (58% say so), while around a third (36%) say it’s mainly an effort to discredit Donald Trump’s presidency. Those figures haven’t changed significantly since February despite recent escalations in rhetoric from the President against the investigation and special counsel Robert Mueller specifically.
Since a February survey with similar findings, developments in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election include news that Mueller’s team is investigating Trump’s financial dealings in Russia, upheaval on Trump’s personal legal team, a report produced by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee concluding that no collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia was found, a slew of tweets from the President directly criticizing the probe and Mueller himself and a statement from Trump’s lawyer praying for the end of the investigation.
But neither views of Trump’s handling of the probe nor those of Mueller’s work have budged since February. The President continues to receive lower approval ratings for his handling of the Russia investigation than does Mueller (32% approve of Trump, 48% Mueller) – both ratings are largely unchanged in the last month.
Trump’s approval rating on handling the investigation is worse than his ratings for other issues, and that’s true even among his own partisans. Overall, 61% of Republicans approve of his handling of the investigation, compared with ratings above 70% for each other issue measured in the survey.
One possible reason for Trump’s low marks: Most Americans say the president isn’t doing enough to cooperate with the investigation (55% say so), while just 40% think he is doing enough to cooperate. Among Republicans, 77% see Trump’s cooperation as sufficient, but that dips to just 42% of independents and 6% of Democrats.
Three-quarters overall (75%) say the President should agree to testify under oath for the probe, if he is asked to do so, similar to the 78% who felt that way in January. The poll followed news that investigators from Mueller’s team had discussed with Trump’s legal team topics on which they’d like to interview the President. The partisan gap is a bit smaller on this question, with majorities across party lines saying they think Trump ought to agree to testify if asked (92% of Democrats, 76% of independents and 54% of Republicans say he should).
But there’s less party agreement on whether Mueller’s investigation should be able to look into Trump’s financial dealings with Russia or if those should be off-limits to investigators. Overall, 67% say they should be fair game for investigators, including 92% of Democrats and 67% of independents, but just 39% of Republicans agree.
The CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS March 22-25 among a random national sample of 1,014 adults reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points, it is larger for subgroups.