Americans’ confidence in the fairness of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has never been higher — even among Republicans, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center released Wednesday, the day Mueller testified before Congress.
The Pew center, a nonpartisan research organization, found that 65% of Americans felt the special counsel’s investigation into possible interference in the 2016 election was fair. The percentage of Republicans who believe the investigation was fair has surged since January, before Mueller’s report was finished.
The Mueller report, released in April, found 10 possible instances of obstruction of justice. Guidelines from the Justice Department prohibit the indictment of a sitting president, but Mueller repeated during his testimony to House lawmakers Wednesday that the evidence did not exonerate Trump.
The president has called the entire investigation a ”witch hunt″ and Republican lawmakers have declared that the president did nothing wrong. Some Democrats saw the report as grounds to start impeachment. But many others, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), have resisted moving ahead with a resolution to impeach.
Republican and Republican-leaning independents generally had a negative view of the investigation when it started in May 2017, but see it in a much more positive light now that it is over. Fully 60% of the Republicans surveyed this month said they believed the Mueller probe to be somewhat or very fair. That’s a jump of 21 percentage points from January, when only 39% of Republicans held that view.
Republicans and Republican leaners who have heard a lot about the Mueller probe or have been following it closely showed the greatest change. Only 29% said in September that the investigation was fair, but that number more than doubled to 62% in July’s survey. Even those who had not heard much about the investigation had increased confidence in its fairness, according to Pew.
Around 70% of Democrats have consistently expressed confidence in the investigation from the start. Unlike Republicans, “there has been little change in Democrats’ confidence in Mueller, regardless of how much they have heard about the investigation,” the Pew report says.
However, Democrats are much less confident than Republicans that the Trump administration is making a serious effort to prevent further Russian interference in American elections. Republicans have gained confidence in the administration’s efforts since March 2018, but Democrats’ opinions haven’t changed much.
Mueller has tried to appear neutral in his work and public appearances, so opinions about him vary much more than people’s opinions on Trump. Further, an April poll from the Washington Post and ABC News found that 46% of those surveyed said the Mueller investigation’s findings are not a factor in their 2020 vote for president.
So, regardless of what the Mueller investigation reveals, it may not affect the way people vote in the presidential election.
Pew Research surveyed 1,502 adults between July 10 and July 15, using live phone interviewers to reach both landlines and cellphones.