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Majority Of Americans Believe Trump Was Trying To Block Russia Investigation

Trump Russia

A new ABC News-Washington Post poll finds a majority of Americans believing that President Trump has been actively interfering in the ongoing F.B.I. investigation regarding Russian interference in the election and contact between the Trump campaign and Russian officials:

A majority of Americans report grave suspicions about President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James B. Comey and his conduct during investigations of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

A 56 percent majority of U.S. adults say Trump is interfering with such investigations rather than cooperating, while 61 percent say Trump fired Comey to protect himself rather than for the good of the country.

Comey also faces serious credibility problems ahead of his highly anticipated Senate testimony Thursday, with 36 percent of Americans saying they trust what he says about Russia and the election “a great deal” or “a good amount,” while 55 percent trust him less or not at all. The poll finds substantial skepticism across party lines, evidence that his role investigating the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has taken a toll.

Trump is seen as even less trustworthy, however, with just over 1 in 5 saying they trust what he says about Russia’s role in the 2016 campaign, while just over 7 in 10 trust him less. Fully half of adults say they do not trust what Trump says “at all” on these issues, compared with one-quarter who say the same of Comey. Fully 4 in 10 Americans have doubts about both Comey and Trump’s statements on Russia and the election.

The Post-ABC poll was conducted Friday to Sunday, before The Washington Post reported Tuesdaythat the Director of National Intelligence told associates that Trump asked him if he could intervene with Comey on the FBI’s Russia probe to back off its focus on former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

(…)

Political independents, a group that Trump won in last year’s election, are also largely critical. By 63 to 20 percent, more independents say Trump fired Comey to protect himself rather than for the good of the country. And by roughly 2 to 1, more independents say Trump is trying to interfere with Russia investigations rather than cooperating with them (58 to 27 percent). More than three-quarters of independents say they trust Trump’s statements about Russia “just some” or not at all.

Large majorities of Republicans say Trump fired Comey for the good of the country (71 percent) and that he is cooperating with investigations into Russia’s election influence (77 percent). At the same time, roughly 1 in 5 Republicans say Trump fired Comey to protect himself, while about 1 in 6 think he is trying to interfere with investigations, criticisms shared by more than 3 in 10 conservatives.

Trump’s trustworthiness also lags among fellow partisans, with less than half of Republicans (45 percent) saying they trust what he says about Russia investigations “a great deal” or “a good amount,” while about as many trust him less (48 percent).

Comey’s credibility on Russia investigations also has a partisan tinge, with 54 percent of Democrats saying they trust what he says compared with 32 percent of independents and 18 percent of Republicans. Even among Democrats, whose leaders have decried Comey’s firing, about 4 in 10 say they trust the former FBI director “just some” or “not at all.” Those doubts rise to 59 percent among independents and 76 percent among Republicans, ample skepticism ahead of the former FBI director’s testimony this week.

Given the evidence that has come out so far, and the fact that Trump’s approval numbers are already low, it’s not entirely surprising that the public is to say the least deeply suspicious of the President’s motives and actions in connection with the Russia investigation. From the beginning, there has always been something suspicious about the relationship between Trump, his businesses and campaign, and Russia. Perhaps the most prominent thing has been the fact that Trump has been oddly obsequious toward Russian President Vladimir Putin since long before he even entered the race for President. At various times, Trump has praised Putin’s leadership and dismissed concerns raised by reporters and others regarding the Russian leaders disdain for civil liberties, his treatment of the critics in the press and politics which have included imprisoning reporters and allegations of having opponents murdered. He has declined to criticize Putin for his actions in Ukraine that began with the seizure of Crimea and soon escalated into open support for separatists in eastern Ukraine to point of providing them with advanced weaponry capable of shooting down passenger planes. And, he has expressed open admiration for a leadership style that can only be described as authoritarian at the very least and vaguely Stalinist to say the worst. Additionally, there have been multiple reports of close relationships between Russian officials and people who are or have been close to Trump, including Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Carter Page, and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Obviously none of this one its own proves that Trump himself was talking with Russian officials during the campaign, or that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, but it is most certainly enough to warrant suspicion and justify an investigation.

This poll comes on the same day that The Washington Post came out with an additional report that appears to show an effort by Trump to interfere with the Russia investigation. This morning, it was reported that Trump asked Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and C.I.A. Director Mike Pompeo to get Comey to “back off” the investigation of former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn.  During testimony today before the Senate Intelligence Committee today that was originally called to discuss general issues about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, those individuals declined to answer specific questions regarding their conversations with the President, saying that they would not do so in a public forum or before discussing the matter with Robert Mueller, who has been appointed as special counsel to investigate the Russia matter. It also comes on the same day that The New York Times is reporting that Comey told Attorney General Sessions that he did not want to be alone with the President in the future due to the fact that the President appeared to not understand the limitations that Comey was under in discussing the matter with anyone outside the Bureau. Comey, of course, is set to testify tomorrow morning on the matter of his discussions with the President regarding this matter. That testimony is likely to be among the most closely watched events on Capitol Hill in quite some time, and they could go a long way toward determining the future of the Trump Administration for the foreseeable future.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Comey’s opening statement…
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4rblq-fxqLaX3Nwc1VJb00xUms/view
    I’m no attorney but it seems pretty damning in an annoyingly benign sort of way.
    The question is; what are the supine Ryan and McConnell going to do about it? Nothing. You have had Russia attack us, and Trump commit Obstruction, and those two are going to do nothing.
    The next thing you are going to start hearing out of the sycophants is that Trump is an outsider and didn’t understand what he was doing was wrong.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  2. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    The RCP Average has Dumb Don’s approval matching his all-time low at 39.4% with the spread at a record 15.5%.
    His approval is not going to go up after tomorrows testimony.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  3. Pete S says:

    You would have to be willfully stupid to believe that Trump is not trying to block the investigation – he came right out and said he fired the FBI Director because he would not shut the investigation down. I suppose it is possible to believe that Trump has not actively colluded with Russia in anything but has instead by pure dumb luck and idiocy surrounded himself with people who have very suspicious ties.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  4. James Pearce says:

    Even Trump supporters believe he was trying to block the Russia investigation. They just wish he was better at it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  5. michael reynolds says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:
    Nate Silver’s weight-adjusted average has it at 55.9 to 38.3, an 18 point spread.

    46% of voters on November 8 has dwindled to 38% in polling. I look for it to go to 60% to 35%. He’s completely lost independents, he’s down now to the hardcore, which I’d ballpark at around 1/3 of total voters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @michael reynolds:
    If they lose that Georgia seat then some Republican sphincters are going to start to tighten up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Jeffrey Toobin thinks there is no question…
    https://twitter.com/JeffreyToobin/status/872517949403394048

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  8. gVOR08 says:

    I’m pleasantly surprised that 56% claim to be aware of this. Given that they are, the step from there to attempted obstruction of justice is kinda, “well, duh”.

    Gallup Daily Tracking shows his approval back up to 38 from 36 a few days ago. He’s been hovering around 40 since a month after the inauguration. He gets bad news, it drops 2 to 5 points, Doug and the MSM write about his falling ratings, then it drifts back up. It’s amazing. If it’s trending down, it’s trending down damn slowly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. teve tory says:

    If republican legislators come to believe that Trump’s bungling is badly interfering with their agenda and Mike Pence would be much better…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: The problem with that argument does not involve his lack of knowledge. The problem is that he showed that he didn’t care by seeking other people to do end run the problem for him.

    The other problem is that about 35-40% of the population probably doesn’t care that he attempted to obstruct justice because it would amount to a win for their team if he succeeded.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  11. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker: And the 35 -40% may include about 200 or so members of the House of Representatives.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. David M says:

    Given that the majority who believe this includes Trump, I really have to wonder what’s going on with the rest. If Trump admitting this was the reason didn’t do it, what would?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0