By 44% to 36%, Americans believe Trump’s actions around January 6 were illegal

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
July 27, 2022, 4:37 PM GMT+0

Yesterday, a number of news outlets reported that the Justice Department is investigating Donald Trump’s actions in a criminal probe into the January 6 Capitol takeover. The Economist/YouGov Poll has tracked opinion over the past month on how much responsibility Trump has for the takeover, and found little change in how Americans view Trump’s role in the events of January 6. Three-quarters of Democrats (75%) believe the former president has "a lot" of responsibility for the takeover, while 34% of Independents and 9% of Republicans agree. However, in this week’s poll, only half of Republicans (50%) say Trump played no role in the attack, which is a 4-percentage-point drop from the week prior.

Regardless of his responsibility, do Americans believe Trump or his associates’ actions surrounding January 6 were illegal? By 44% to 36%, Americans believe Trump’s actions were illegal, and by 44% to 30%, they believe the actions of some others in his administration were illegal. Our tracking of these measures over the past month has shown little movement among Democrats and Republicans: Most recently, we find that 79% of Democrats believe Trump acted illegally, compared to 36% of Independents and 12% of Republicans. However, there has been some change among Independents: In our latest poll, 36% say Trump acted illegally, a 6-percentage-point drop from the start of the month when 42% said he’d acted illegally.

Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon was recently found guilty of two counts of criminal contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena related to the January 6 Capitol takeover. The news broke shortly before we began fielding our latest poll, which found that 72% of Americans had heard about the guilty verdict, including 81% of Democrats and 73% of Republicans.

Americans are more likely to approve (40%) than disapprove (25%) of this verdict. Far more Democrats (71%) agree with the guilty verdict than disagree with it (8%). A large share of Republicans are unsure about the outcome, though fewer agree (12%) than disagree (47%).

Carl Bialik and Kathy Frankovic contributed to this article

This poll was conducted on July 23 - 26, 2022 among 1,500 U.S. adult citizens. Explore more on the methodology and data for this Economist/YouGov poll.

Image: Jon Cherry / Stringer / Getty Images