The vast majority of Americans have dismissed the idea that President Donald Trump acted illegally with Russia during the 2016 election, according to Frank Newport, the editor-in-chief of Gallup.
Less than 3 in 10 Americans believe that Trump acted illegally in relation to alleged coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to a Gallup poll (pdf) released on Sept. 6.
“A lot of Americans have kind of dismissed the idea that he [Trump] colluded to the extent that he did something illegal,” Newport told Hill.TV. “A lot more Americans would say he did something wrong, but it wasn’t illegal.”
The number of Americans who believe that Trump broke the law went up 4 percent since last year. Meanwhile, the percentage of those who have no opinion rose to 9 percent this year compared to 3 percent in 2017.
The poll was conducted one week after former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and the president’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, were convicted of charges unrelated to the Russia-collusion narrative.
Manafort and Cohen were both prosecuted as a result of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of alleged coordination between the Trump campaign with Russia and related matters. Mueller, who began investigating the allegations more than a year ago, has not produced any evidence or indictments related to collusion.
Days after the poll was conducted, former Trump-campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, the man whose alleged actions triggered the FBI probe of the Trump campaign in July 2016, was given a two-week prison sentence. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, a charge also unrelated to Russia collusion.
Trump has repeatedly criticized the Mueller probe as “rigged” and a “witch hunt.”
“The Rigged Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on as the ‘originators and founders’ of this scam continue to be fired and demoted for their corrupt and illegal activity,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Aug. 15. “All credibility is gone from this terrible Hoax, and much more will be lost as it proceeds. No Collusion!”
Newport pointed out that while Americans have largely dismissed the idea that Trump acted illegally, they are consistently concerned with the failings of the U.S. government.
“Americans are really disgusted with government and how it operates here in Washington DC,” Newport said. “And that’s bipartisan.”
While on the campaign trail and after taking office, Trump promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington. “I’m draining the Swamp, and the Swamp is trying to fight back. Don’t worry, we will win!” he wrote on Twitter on Sept. 5.
“We have a crisis right here in our own nation’s capital according to the American public.”
Democrats are overwhelmingly more likely to think that Trump acted illegally in 2016. Fifty-nine percent of Democrats surveyed believed Trump broke the law, compared to just three percent of Republicans.