Poll: Many want Congress to probe Trump-Russia

WASHINGTON (AP) — As the nation awaited the release of the special counsel’s report today, a new poll finds that many Americans aren’t ready to clear President Donald Trump in the Russia investigation. Slightly more Americans want Congress to keep investigating than to set aside its probes after special counsel Robert Mueller left open the question of whether Trump broke the law.

About 6 in 10 continue to believe the president obstructed justice.

The poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research also finds greater GOP confidence in the investigation after Attorney General William Barr in late March released his letter saying Mueller found no criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia but didn’t make a judgment on the obstruction question.

At the same time, the poll indicates that Americans are mostly unhappy with the amount of information that has been released so far. They’ll get more Thursday, when Barr is expected to release a redacted version of the nearly 400-page report.

Trump has repeatedly claimed “total exoneration,” after Barr asserted in his memo that there was insufficient evidence for an obstruction prosecution.

“It’s a total phony,” Trump said of all allegations to Minneapolis TV station KSTP this week. “Any aspect of that report, I hope it does come out because there was no collusion, whatsoever, no collusion. There was no obstruction because that was ruled by the attorney general.”

Overall, 39% of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, roughly unchanged from mid-March, before Mueller completed his two-year investigation.

But many Americans still have questions.

The poll shows 35% of Americans think Trump did something illegal related to Russia — largely unchanged since the earlier poll. An additional 34% think he’s done something unethical.

Brown says he remains extremely concerned about possible inappropriate contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia, citing Trump’s past interest in building a Trump Tower in Moscow, and believes the president committed crimes of obstruction to cover up financial interests. “He’s not going to jeopardize his pocketbook for anything,” he said.

Still, the poll suggests Barr’s summary helped allay some lingering doubts within the GOP. Among Republicans, more now say Trump did nothing wrong at all (65% vs. 55% a month ago) and fewer say he did something unethical (27%, down from 37% a month ago).

Even as Trump blasts the Mueller probe as a Democratic witch hunt, poll respondents expressed more confidence that the investigation was impartial. The growing confidence since March was driven by Republicans: Three-quarters now say they are at least moderately confident in the probe, and 38% are very or extremely confident, up from 46% and 18%, respectively, in March. Among Democrats, about 70% are at least moderately confident, down slightly from a month ago, and 45% are very or extremely confident.

Still, 61% of Americans say they believe the Justice Department has shared too few details so far with the public, and 55% think it has shared too few with Congress. About a third think the department has shared too little with the White House, which has argued that portions of the report should be kept confidential if they involve private conversations of the president subject to executive privilege.

Democrats have been calling for Mueller himself to testify before Congress and have expressed concern that Barr will order unnecessary censoring of the report to protect Trump. The House Judiciary Committee, led by Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, is poised to try to compel Barr to turn over an unredacted copy as well as the report’s underlying investigative files.

The poll shows that even with the Mueller probe complete, 53% say Congress should continue to investigate Trump’s ties with Russia, while 45% say Congress should not. A similar percentage, 53%, say Congress should take steps to impeach Trump if he is found to have obstructed justice, even if he did not have inappropriate contacts with Russia.

Deep partisan divisions remain.

Democrats were much more likely than Republicans to believe Trump had done something improper and to support continued investigations that could lead to his removal from office. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has downplayed the likelihood of impeachment proceedings but isn’t closing the door entirely if there are significant findings of Trump misconduct.

On investigations, 84% of Democrats believe lawmakers shouldn’t let up in scrutinizing Trump’s ties to Russia, but the same share of Republicans disagrees. Similarly, 83% of Democrats say Congress should take steps to impeach Trump if he is found to have obstructed justice, even if he did not have inappropriate contacts with Russia, while 82% of Republicans say Congress should not.

The AP-NORC poll of 1,108 adults was conducted April 11-14 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

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