As the special counsel investigation into Donald Trump’s presidential campaign winds down, a new poll finds that most Americans are at least moderately confident that Robert Mueller’s probe has been fair and impartial.
The poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research also finds that most Americans have some concern that Trump’s campaign had improper connections to Russia, though fewer than half say the president has done something illegal in his ties to Russia.
The survey was conducted as the Justice Department prepares to receive the findings of Mueller’s investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia and possible obstruction of justice by Trump himself. Though Mueller’s report will be confidential, Attorney General William Barr has said he wants to make as much public as he can under the law.
Overall, about 6 in 10 Americans have at least some confidence in the fairness of the investigation, with 33 percent very confident. Thirty-seven percent are not very or not at all confident in a fair investigation.
Approval of Trump in the new poll stands at 40 percent, up slightly from 34 percent who approved in January. The January poll was conducted during the month-long government shutdown and found a dip in his approval rating. But compared with previous presidents, Americans’ feelings on Trump have been remarkably stable, fluctuating within a narrow band from about the mid-30s to the mid-40s.
The new poll results reflect continued deep partisan divisions about both Trump and the Mueller investigation, with views of the probe — and the president’s actions — largely unchanged over the past year.
In the latest poll, 80 percent of Republicans and just 8 percent of Democrats say they approve of Trump.
Fifty-five percent of Republicans say they have little to no confidence in a fair investigation by Mueller. Just 18 percent of Republicans are very confident, though another 28 percent say they are moderately confident. By contrast, most Democrats — 80 percent — have at least some confidence.
The only criminal case Mueller has brought since the last AP-NORC poll in December involved longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone, who is accused of obstruction and false statements.
“I have a lot of respect for Mueller, from everything that I’ve heard,” said 76-year-old Paul Seamans, of North Andover, Massachusetts, who is self-employed and said his political views lean conservative. “And if they do find something that he’s done wrong — and I’m talking about Trump — he should have to answer to it.”
But, he added, “I’m not sure if Trump has done anything wrong. There’s been no real proof.”
The poll shows that 45 percent of Americans are extremely or very concerned that Trump’s campaign had inappropriate contacts with Russia, and another 18 percent are moderately concerned.
About a third of Americans say Trump has done something illegal when it comes to his ties with Russia, while roughly an additional third say he has done something unethical.