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Americans Assess the Progress of the Russia Investigation

The December 2017 AP-NORC Poll of 1,020 adults explores the public’s attitudes toward the impartiality of the investigations of Trump’s ties to Russia and whether Trump has committed any wrongdoing. 

Fewer than half of Americans believe President Trump has done something illegal when it comes to his ties with Russia, but more than 6 in 10 say he has tried to impede or obstruct the investigation into these ties, according to a new survey by The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The survey also finds that confidence in the Justice Department’s investigation has increased among Democrats and decreased among Republicans since June.

Forty percent of Americans say Trump has done something illegal with regards to his campaign’s ties with Russia, 32 percent say he has done something unethical but not illegal, and 25 percent say he has committed no wrongdoing.

But when it comes to the investigation into these ties, 63 percent say he has tried to impede or obstruct the investigation and 35 percent say he has not. These numbers remain largely unchanged since June of this year. 

And many Americans lack confidence that neither the Justice Department’s investigation, led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, nor the Congressional investigation will be fair and impartial. Twenty-six percent of Americans say they are extremely or very confident that the Justice Department’s investigation will be fair and impartial, 31 percent are moderately confident, and 42 percent are not very or not confident at all. Just 13 percent of Americans say they are extremely or very confident that the Congressional investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia will be fair and impartial, 32 percent are moderately confident, and 54 percent are not very or not confident at all.

While Democrats and Republicans express similarly low levels of confidence in the Congressional investigation, their views on the Justice Department’s ability to conduct a fair investigation have diverged since June. In June, 27 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of Republicans expressed confidence in the fairness of the Justice Department’s investigation. Today, 38 percent of Democrats express confidence compared with just 14 percent of Republicans.

The nationwide poll was conducted December 7-11, 2017 using the AmeriSpeak® Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,020 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.