A majority of Americans doubt the 2016 presidential election outcome was influenced by Russia and nearly half agree that the current investigation is a "political 'witch hunt' aimed at getting the president impeached," according to the latest IBD/TIPP Poll.
Moreover, despite growing talk among Trump's political foes of possible impeachment, 65% called such talk "premature" while 32% said it was "appropriate." However, just 4% of Republicans agreed that impeachment talk was appropriate, compared to 60% of Democrats.
The results of the national poll of 903 adults, taken from May 30 to June 6, strongly suggest that many Americans see the current investigation into alleged Trump campaign ties to Russian government officials as largely political and driven by sensational media coverage.
"A majority of the public feels that the news media are putting the cart before the horse regarding discussions of alleged collusion between President Trump and Russia," said Raghavan Mayur, president of TechnoMetrica, who directed the IBD/TIPP Poll.
"The American people perceive that, in the court of the media, Trump is guilty until proven innocent," Mayur added. "Since the election, the media have persistently questioned the president's legitimacy on various fronts, from Michigan's close vote count and Russian interference to Trump's mental capacity, and, presently, alleged collusion with Russia," Mayur added. "So far, the public has not been swayed."
Despite the media's saturation coverage, some 52% of respondents said the outcome of the 2016 presidential election was "not influenced" by Russia, while just 39% said it was.
The responses split along predictable party lines, with 77% of Democrats saying Russians influenced the election, but just 6% of Republicans in agreement. Among independents, only 31% saw a Russian influence on the election outcome.
Americans overwhelmingly blame the media for the hoopla surrounding the Russian investigation, with 57% agreeing that "the media has prematurely declared President Trump and his allies guilty of collusion with Russia" despite a lack of evidence. Just 39% disagreed.
And once again, the partisan split was notable, with 83% of Republicans agreeing that the media had displayed bias, but just 32% of Democrats saying the same. Some 62% of independents saw media bias in the coverage of the Russia investigation.
Perhaps surprisingly, the age group that saw the greatest media effect was the youngest — the 18-to-24 year-old age group, with 72% agreeing that the media had essentially treated Trump and his campaign officials as guilty in covering the Russia issue without providing evidence. All of the other age groups were in the 53% to 59% range.
Meanwhile, some 47% agreed with the statement that "the investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia is a political 'witch hunt' aimed at getting the president impeached." But 48% disagreed.
Even so, 21% of Democrats agreed that the investigation was a witch hunt, along with 75% of Republicans and 51% of independents.
On Thursday, former FBI Director James Comey, whom President Obama hired in 2013 and President Trump fired in May, is scheduled to testify to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about the events surrounding the FBI's investigation into Trump campaign officials' ties to Russia — especially those of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who served as Trump's national security advisor for a month before being fired for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about Flynn's past contacts with Russian officials.
In prepared testimony slated for delivery Thursday before Congress, Comey once again said that Trump had expressed his hope in an Oval Office meeting on Feb. 14 that Comey would end his investigation into Flynn because "he is a good guy and has been through a lot."
But Trump neither ordered Comey to end his Flynn investigation nor implied he would retaliate if he didn't. Still, Comey said, he found his contacts with Trump troubling.
Comey also made clear that Trump didn't appear to be trying to get him to stop the much broader FBI investigation into White House ties to Russia, as some in the media have suggested.
"I had understood the president to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December," Comey says in his prepared text. "I did not understand the president to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign."
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