Most Americans now want an investigation into Trump team's alleged Russia links

Jon Sharman
President Donald Trump: AP

More than half of Americans think Congress should investigate whether members of Donald Trump's campaign team had contact with the Russian government in the run-up to the election.

Fifty-three per cent of people told researchers from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal they backed a congressional probe, and a similar proportion said Russian interference more generally in the 2016 polls should be looked into.

In total, 25 per cent said they would not support an investigation of the Trump campaign team.

But the numbers were collated before the latest controversy to hit President Trump's administration—reports that his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, had twice had contact with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, but did not disclose it during his confirmation hearing in January.

Mr Sessions has recused himself from any probe that examines communications between President Trump's aides and Moscow following the revelations, while denying he met any "Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries" in relation to the Presidential campaign.

He rejected suggestions he lied under oath during his confirmation hearing but admitted his answer to a question by Senator Al Franken could have been more comprehensive.

Mr Sessions: "I should have slowed down and said, 'But I did meet one Russian official a couple of times.'"

Asked what he would have done if he discovered "anyone affiliated" with Mr Trump's campaign had been in contact with Russian representatives, Mr Sessions had said: "I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two during that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians and I’m unable to comment on it."

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said "there was absolutely nothing misleading" about Mr Sessions' answer during the confirmation hearing. "He was asked during the hearing about communications between Russia and the Trump campaign—not about meetings he took as a senator and a member of the Armed Services Committee," she added.

The poll findings showed a clear partisan split over the issue of investigating Russia links.

Eighty per cent of Democrats supported the plan of examining Mr Trump's team, but only 25 per cent of Republicans did. More than half of people who identified as "independent"—55 per cent—backed an investigation.

Support for members of Congress looking into Russia's wider involvement in the election achieved a similar result in the poll.

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