The majority of Republicans do not think the guilty plea of President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn is a serious matter and believe the investigation into dealings with Russia is politically motivated, a new poll shows.
CBS News asked 1,120 American voters—including Republicans, Democrats and Independents—a series of questions about the ongoing investigation into alleged collusion between Trump campaign officials and the Russians, led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. In response to a question concerning Flynn's guilty plea to a charge of lying to the FBI about conversations with a Russian ambassador, and his subsequent cooperation with Mueller, 59 percent of Republicans said it was “not a serious matter” for the Trump administration.
By contrast, 91 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of Independents considered it a “serious matter.”
Respondents were similarly split along party lines in other questions posed by the poll, which was the first to be conducted since Flynn’s guilty plea on Friday.
In answer to the question of whether Mueller's investigation is "justified" or "politically motivated," 81 percent of Republicans said they believe it is “politically motivated,” while 74 percent of Democrats said the investigation is “justified.” Independents were all but split down the middle, with 42 percent saying it was justified, 48 percent saying it was politically motivated and 10 percent unsure.
Voters were also asked how likely they thought it was that senior Trump advisors had improper dealings with Russia before the president's inauguration. Seventeen percent of Republicans said they thought it was "very likely" and 26 percent said it was "somewhat likely," compared with Democrats’ responses of 72 percent and 20 percent, respectively.
On the importance of the issue to the nation, 50 percent of Republicans said the situation was of either “very little importance” or "no importance," while 80 percent of Democrats said it was of “great importance.”
Flynn became the fourth person connected to Trump's campaign to be charged in Mueller's probe into possible collusion between Trump’s team and Russian officials leading up to the election. He also faces potential obstruction of justice and financial crimes, and is the first person Mueller has reached who held a post in the Trump administration.
Trump expressed sympathy for Flynn on Monday, and accused his opponent in the election, Hillary Clinton, of similar infractions.
“Well, I feel badly for Gen. Flynn,” Trump said. “I feel very badly. He’s led a very strong life, and I feel very badly. I will say this, Hillary Clinton lied many times to the FBI. Nothing happened to her. Flynn lied, and they destroyed his life. I think it’s a shame.”
The poll, which had a margin of error of 4 percentage points, surveyed adult voters by phone from December 3 to 5.
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