If this CNN-sponsored poll is to be believed, the Mueller report has done little to change the opinions of Americans about whether Trump colluded with Russia.
Though President Donald Trump has claimed “complete and total exoneration” based on Attorney General William Barr’s summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, the American public disagrees, according to a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS.
A majority (56%) says the President and his campaign have not been exonerated of collusion, but that what they’ve heard or read about the report shows collusion could not be proven. Fewer, 43%, say Trump and his team have been exonerated of collusion.
Although Mueller could not establish Trump or his campaign “conspired or coordinated with” the Russian government, according to Barr’s letter, the poll finds the American people continue to view the issue through partisan lenses.
It should be no surprise to anyone that the primary factor in the perception of whether Trump was exonerated on the issue of collusion is political affiliation: 77 percent of Republicans say Trump was exonerated, while 80 percent of Democrats say he wasn’t. Nearly 60 percent of independents say Trump was not exonerated. This, however, isn’t the complete story. “Those who say they have heard or read ‘a great deal’ about the report (about 23% of the public), however, are more apt to say the President has been cleared,” according to the report. “56% in that group say Trump and his campaign have been exonerated of any collusion, while 44% say it wasn’t exoneration but that collusion could not be proven.”
What this tells us is that people who are more knowledgable about the report tend to agree that Trump has been exonerated, but it still tells us that confirmation bias is a real problem. Despite the unambiguous language that told us that no collusion was found, there’s a large portion of the population who simply don’t care. They will interpret the information they’ve received in a way that fits the narrative they want to believe. The scary part is that despite the nearly two-year-long investigation that had endless resources, hundreds of subpoenas, and a lead investigator with a reputation for being thorough, the public overall was not swayed by the report.
The 43% overall in the new poll saying the President has been exonerated is about the same as the 42% who said in a CNN poll earlier this year that Trump’s campaign did not collude with the Russian government to help get Trump elected. That suggests the summary letter released Sunday did little to move public opinion on this matter.
So what was the point of the investigation if more than half of the population was not going to accept any outcome as conclusive except for one that determined collusion happened? What does that say about where we are headed as a country? Imagine for a moment that the Mueller report had actually found evidence of Russian collusion, yet nearly half refused to believe it. It is bad enough that Democrats still haven’t accepted the results of the 2016 election, but it’s even worse that they refuse to accept the results of an investigation they called for and had complete faith in up until they didn’t get the result they wanted.
If facts don’t matter in politics, how much longer will our Republic survive?
Matt Margolis is the author of The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obama and the bestselling The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. His new book, Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy, will be published in 2019. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis