Confidence in Mueller’s investigation remains steadfast

March 19, 2018

Special Counsel Robert Mueller may well be the most-scrutinized man in America—as he continues the Russia investigation under the wary and wrathful eyes of President Donald Trump, as well as under the cautiously hopeful attention of the U.S. public.

A majority of Americans (61%) still say that they are very or somewhat confident Mueller will conduct a fair investigation, based on findings of a poll of 1,466 U.S. adults by Pew Research Center released on March 15. These views have changed only modestly since December, the pollsters claim.

Specifically, nearly half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (46%) are very or somewhat confident Mueller will conduct a fair investigation. Democrats and Democratic leaners are overwhelmingly confident Mueller’s investigation will be fair (75% very or somewhat confident).

About four-in-ten Americans (42%) are very or somewhat confident that the administration will make a serious effort to thwart Russian efforts to influence future elections. Most are not too confident (19%) or not at all confident (36%) the Trump administration will take serious action to prevent Russia from influencing future elections in this country.

In addition, the poll has found that the public is divided in opinions about the ultimate impact of Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election: 48% say these efforts did not benefit either Trump or Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, while 43% say they benefited Trump. Very few Americans (4%) think Russian actions benefited Clinton.

Three-quarters of Republicans and Republican leaners say that Russia’s meddling didn’t benefit either campaign very much. A nearly identical share of Democrats and Democratic leaners (74%) say it benefited Trump’s campaign.

There also are sizeable differences between parties—and wide ideological differences within each—on whether the Trump administration had improper contact with Russia during the 2016 campaign.

Overall, 58% of the public say that senior members of the Trump administration likely had improper contact with Russia during the 2016 campaign, including 25% who say they “definitely” did and 33% who say they “probably” did. As with views of Mueller’s investigation, these opinions are relatively unchanged since December.

An overwhelming share of Democrats (88%) says that improper contact probably (45%) or definitely (43%) occurred. Liberal Democrats (54%) are far more likely than conservative and moderate Democrats (33%) to say such contacts definitely took place.

By contrast, seven-in-ten Republicans (71%) say that senior members of the Trump administration probably or definitely did not have improper contact with Russia.

While 40% of conservative Republicans say improper campaign contacts between senior Trump officials and Russia definitely did not occur, just 14% of moderate and liberal Republicans say the same.

Research contact: info@pewresearch.org

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