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Americans React to Russia and the Mueller Investigation
Rob Griffin, Ph.D.,


Last year, special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, including any links or coordination between Russia and the campaign of Donald Trump.

Since the early days of the investigation, political and media influencers have fought to shape public perceptions about the investigators and their potential findings. The outcome of these efforts may have longstanding repercussions for the nation’s core democratic norms and institutions.

This brief focuses on several dimensions of how the public currently perceives the investigation, including its fairness and integrity, the seriousness of the allegations, and the appropriateness of actions that the President could take to curtail the investigation.

It is based on the April–May 2018 VOTER Survey (Views of the Electorate Research Survey) of 6,005 Americans, which included a battery of questions about the special counsel’s investigation. The VOTER Survey was conducted by the Democracy Fund’s Voter Study Group — a collaboration of nearly two dozen analysts and scholars from across the political spectrum examining and delivering insights on the evolving views of American voters.

Key Findings

  • While nearly half of Americans believe that the special counsel’s Russia investigation is being conducted fairly, most of those who voted for President Trump do not.
  • Despite skepticism about the integrity of the inquiry, Trump voters believe that the allegations under investigation by the special counsel would be serious if proven.
  • Ninety-one percent of Clinton voters believe that improper contact with Russia probably occurred while 80 percent of Trump voters say it probably did not.
  • Most Americans do not believe that President Trump should remove Robert Mueller or pardon senior members of his administration. It’s only among those who have no confidence in the fairness of the investigation that a majority support removing Mueller or pardoning senior administration officials.
  • Among Republicans, those who voted for Governor John Kasich and Senator Marco Rubio in the 2016 presidential primary are the most supportive of the investigation.