Public Confidence in Mueller’s Investigation Remains Steady

(CN) – Americans continue to express confidence that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will conduct a fair investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, the Pew Research Center said Thursday.

In a survey of 1,466 adults conducted between March 7-14, Pew Research found that 61 percent of respondents were at least “somewhat” confident that Mueller’s probe will reach a fair conclusion, that number having “changed only modestly since December.”

The “modest” boost in public confidence was primarily generated by Democratic respondents – 65 percent were at least somewhat confident in Mueller’s investigation, and 39 percent were “very” confident. Republican respondents’ views on the special counsel remained virtually unchanged within aggregate confidence metrics since December, though fewer Republican respondents were “very” confident in this survey (11 percent) compared to their views in January (15 percent).

Fewer respondents indicated that they believed the Trump administration was making a serious effort to prevent further Russian meddling in future elections. Only 42 percent of respondents were at least somewhat confident that the administration would make a serious effort, while 19 percent said that they were “not too confident,” and 36 percent indicated no at all confidence in the administration’s effort.

As previous Pew Research surveys have indicated with other questions, the data indicated inverse opinions along party lines. Seventy-three percent of Republican respondents were confident or somewhat confident that the Trump administration would make a significant effort to prevent future Russian meddling in elections, whereas 85 percent of Democratic respondents had little to no confidence in the administration’s efforts to prevent future Russian interference.

However, 48 percent of respondents felt that Russian meddling in the 2016 election helped neither Trump’s nor Hillary Clinton’s campaigns, whereas 43 percent believed the meddling helped president Trump. Only 4 percent felt that Russian efforts helped Clinton.

Seventy-five percent of Republican respondents felt that Russian meddling helped neither candidate, while 74 percent of Democratic respondents felt that the meddling helped the Trump campaign.

The central question of Mueller’s investigation – whether the Trump campaign aided or purposefully benefited from Russian meddling – also revealed stark contrasts between the two major parties.

Seventy-one percent of Republican respondents felt that Trump did not or probably did not “have improper contact with Russia” during the 2016 campaign, but 88 percent of Democratic respondents felt that he did or probably did have improper contacts.

Since Mueller’s appointment on May 17, 2017, the Office of Special Counsel has indicted 19 individuals related to the Russia investigation, including former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort,  aides Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, George Papadopolous, Richard Pinedo and Alex Van der Zwaan and 13 Russian nationals, who were charged with identity theft and financial crimes.

Gates, Flynn, Papadololous and Van der Zwaan all pleaded guilty to charges leveled against them by Mueller’s team.

Manafort has opted to plead not guilty, and the first of two trials he faces is expected to begin in Virginia on July 10.

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