More than one-third of Americans suspect Trump has been working with the Russian government against American interests
The New York Times’ report of the Federal Bureau of Investigation opening a counterintelligence investigation after President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, asking whether or not President Trump could be working for Russia can be seen as bad news. Perhaps the news in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll is even worse: as many people believe the American President is working on behalf of the Russian government as are sure he is not.
Of course, many people don’t know what to think of this shocking news, and nearly one in four in the poll claim they have heard nothing at all about this. Opinion on this question is clearly partisan: two-thirds of Democrats think Mr. Trump is working on behalf of Russia, three-quarters of Republicans say he is not.
However, the President’s relationship with Russia and its President, Vladimir Putin, has been questioned by many. In Economist/YouGov Polls, more Americans believe President Trump views Russia as a friendly nation than say he believes it is not friendly – the opposite of the position the public as a whole takes about Russia. In this poll, a plurality of Americans say it was appropriate for the FBI to open a counterintelligence investigation (46% vs 33% who say it is inappropriate) and that it is a legitimate national security measure (44%). Another 31% say it is not a legitimate national security measure, but rather a matter of senior officials trying to resist the president.
The report could not help but anger the President. The day after it appeared he clearly stated that he had never worked for Russia, and attacked the Times for publishing the story. But clearly many don’t believe him. Just 29% in this poll call President Trump honest and trustworthy. The President’s responses to questions and on Twitter may not be helping. Americans, including a plurality of Republicans, believe he doesn’t handle criticism well.