The Mueller Investigation, March 2019

NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist National Poll

Despite Attorney General William Barr’s public summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, three in four Americans, including a majority of Republicans (54%), want full transparency of the report’s details. 75% of residents think the full report should be made public. Only 18% say Barr’s synopsis is sufficient.

A majority of Americans (56%) also believe many questions remain unanswered and do not think the report’s findings clear President Donald Trump of any wrongdoing. 36% of Americans say the report exonerates Trump. A stark partisan divide exists, but even 19% of Republicans think there are still questions.

“Americans still think there is valuable information to be learned from the release of the Mueller report,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “They don’t think Attorney General Barr’s summary is enough.”

On the issue of obstruction of justice, Special Counsel Mueller’s report was inconclusive, and Attorney General Barr said there was not enough evidence to charge President Trump. 48% of Americans think Barr’s decision should stand while 46% say Congress should continue to investigate obstruction of justice by the president. Republicans (89%) and even 19% of Democrats think the decision not to charge the president should be accepted. Most Democrats though (75%) think Congress should continue to investigate. Independents divide.

About six in ten Democrats and independents, and even a plurality of Republicans believe the probe into possible Russian involvement has been fair (56%).  Although a majority of Americans are satisfied with the Mueller investigation (51%), there is less partisan consensus. Most Republicans (78%) and a majority of independents (52%) are satisfied with the probe. Among Democrats, only 35% are satisfied.

Americans divide about what congressional Democrats should do with Mueller’s report. 48% want Democrats in Congress to hold further hearings, and 45% want their investigations to end. Republicans (83%) and even 18% of Democrats want the investigations to end. Most Democrats (76%) think their party’s members of Congress should hold hearings. Independents divide. 48% want an additional inquiry while 45% want the investigations to conclude.

Yet, many Americans want to hear directly from the two men central to the investigation – Special Counsel Mueller and Attorney General Barr. About two in three Americans think Mueller (66%) and Barr (64%) should go before Congress and testify about the information contained in the report.

A majority of U.S. residents (51%) approve of the job Robert Mueller did as special counsel. A plurality of Americans (38%) also have a favorable impression of Robert Mueller, up from 29% in December. 25%, down from 33%, have an unfavorable opinion of Mueller. A notable 37%, comparable to 39% previously, have either never heard of Mueller or are unsure how to rate him.

The jury is still out on Attorney General Barr. 35% approve of the job Barr is doing in his post, 31% disapprove, but 35% are unsure.

More than two-thirds of Americans (67%) do not think President Trump should pardon members of his administration and campaign associates who have been convicted of crimes as a result of the Mueller investigation. 20% think presidential pardons should be granted.

57% of Americans think President Trump either did something illegal (24%) or unethical but not illegal (33%) in his dealings with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 35% say he has done nothing wrong. In the July 2018 NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll, 53% reported Trump was not acting above board in his interactions with Putin, including 27% who said Trump did something illegal and 26% who reported the president did something unethical. 36%, at that time, said Trump had done nothing wrong.

“On the question of any wrongdoing by President Trump in his dealings with President Putin, Americans are pretty much where they were last July even after months and months of headlines,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

Americans continue to prefer cooperation between the United States and Russia rather than animosity. A majority think it is better to build relationships with Russia (54%) than treat it as a threat (37%). In July, 59% thought it was better to build a relationship with Russia than treat the nation as an adversary (32%).

Looking to the 2020 presidential election, 56% of Americans think it is either very likely or likely Russia will interfere. 40% say it is unlikely.

A majority of registered voters (54%) plan to definitely vote against Trump in the 2020 election. 35% report they will definitely vote for him. When this question was last reported in January, 57% said they would definitely vote against the president, and 30% said they would definitely vote for him.

42% of Americans, including 26% who strongly have this opinion, approve of the job President Trump is doing in office. This is up from the 39% who approved of Trump’s job performance in the NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist’s February 18th survey. 51%, including 40% who strongly have this view, disapprove. 55% previously agreed.

Complete March 29, 2019 NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll Release of the United States

Complete March 29, 2019 NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll of the United States (Tables of Adults and Registered Voters)

Marist Poll Methodology

Nature of the Sample