As former Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller prepares to testify before Congress, nearly two-thirds of Americans – including, for the first time, a majority of Republicans – say they are confident he conducted a fair investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The public is far less confident that the Trump administration is taking action to prevent Russia from influencing future U.S. elections. About half of Americans (46%) are very or somewhat confident that the administration is making a serious effort to block future Russian influence, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
Republicans’ views of Mueller’s investigation, which were generally negative over the probe’s two-year course, are much more positive now that it has been completed. Six-in-ten Republicans and Republican-leaning independents now say they are confident in the fairness of the investigation. In January, just 39% of Republicans said they were confident Mueller was conducting a fair inquiry.
Democrats’ attitudes about Mueller’s fairness have remained generally consistent throughout the course of his investigation. In the new survey conducted July 10-15 among 1,502 adults, about seven-in-ten Democrats and Democratic leaners (71%) say they are very or somewhat confident that Mueller conducted a fair investigation.
Overall, public confidence in Mueller’s investigation has increased 10 percentage points – from 55% to 65% – since January. Today, only about a third of Americans say they are not too (14%) or not at all (17%) confident that Mueller conducted a fair investigation.
Views of Mueller’s investigation have changed dramatically among the Republicans who have been most attentive to the probe.
Currently, 62% of Republicans who say they have heard “a lot” about Mueller’s investigation also say they are confident it was conducted fairly. This figure has more than doubled since September 2018, when only 29% of Republicans who said they had heard a lot about the investigation were confident in Mueller.
Republicans who have paid little or no attention to the investigation are also more confident in Mueller’s fairness than they were last September, but the change has been less pronounced. A majority of Republicans who have heard a little or nothing about the investigation (58%) say they are confident Mueller conducted a fair inquiry – a 17-point increase since September 2018.
There has been little change in Democrats’ confidence in Mueller, regardless of how much they have heard about the investigation.
The new survey finds that partisans are starkly divided in their perceptions of how seriously the Trump administration is trying to prevent Russian interference in future U.S. elections.
A large majority of Republicans (81%) say they are very or somewhat confident the administration is making a serious effort to prevent future Russian interference, with 49% saying they are very confident – an 11-point increase since March 2018. Only 17% say they are not too or not at all confident.
In contrast, 83% of Democrats say they are not too or not at all confident that the administration is making a serious effort to prevent Russian interference. Only 15% say they are very or somewhat confident.