How partisans read Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference

July 01, 2019, 2:42 PM GMT+0

Republicans and Democrats think differently about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The latest Economist/YouGov Poll suggests that even partisans who have read some of the report or heard a lot about it continue to differ on one critical question: whether or not the report exonerated President Donald Trump of obstruction of justice. Partisans, at least when it comes to this investigation, can read the same text and disagree about what it means.

Mueller has agreed to testify in public to Congress on July 17, following a subpoena. As of now, relatively few Americans claim to have read all of the report, but about half of both Republicans and Democrats say they have read at least some of it.

Three in four have heard at least some coverage of the report (though just a third have watched “a lot” of it, and Republicans are only slightly less likely than Democrats to be paying attention. But Republicans and Democrats view stories about the investigation from different perspectives. In this week’s poll, as in previous ones, seven in 10 Republicans believe as the president has claimed, that the Special Counsel’s investigation is a “witch hunt.”

Democrats overwhelmingly view it as a legitimate investigation. Only a third of Republicans who have heard a lot of coverage believe the Mueller report is “mostly true.” While that is higher than the 25% of all Republicans who say that, it is far smaller than the 68% of all Democrats (and the 92% of Democrats who have paid a lot of attention to report coverage). Nearly one in four highly attentive Republicans say the report is mostly false.

Those paying attention to the report agree that it said Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 election. 62% of Republicans who have paid a lot of attention agree it did, while six in 10 of those Republicans who claim they watched nothing about the report disagree.

However, Republicans, even those paying a lot of attention, read the report differently from Democrats when it comes to what it says about President Trump’s culpability. One excerpt from that report which Attorney General William Barr repeated in his four-page summary said the following: “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” Republicans, particularly those who have read some of the report or have been watching a lot of coverage, believe it does.

See the full toplines and tables results for The Economist/YouGov weekly poll.

Image: Getty