More than two-thirds of Americans believe Congress should investigate the origins of the Justice Department’s inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, according to data from a new CNN poll.
The department’s inquiry into Russian interference, which began under the Obama administration, led to special counsel Robert Mueller’s nearly two-year-long investigation that culminated in a report that ultimately cleared President Donald Trump of all allegations of collusion with Russia.
The survey, released on May 1, found that 69 percent of those polled “think Congress ought to investigate the origins of the Justice Department’s inquiry into Russian interference.” Of those who voted, 76 percent were Democrats, 69 percent were independents, and 62 percent were Republicans.
More than two years ago, Trump made the initial claim that his campaign was spied on by the Obama administration. At the time, little evidence was publicly available to back up the president’s claim, but investigations by Republicans in Congress have established that the FBI surveilled at least one Trump campaign associate. Further evidence suggests that Obama officials used at least four other methods to spy on the campaign.
During testimony before Congress in April, Attorney General William Barr, who summarized Mueller’s top-line findings in a letter on March 24, said that he was set to review “both the genesis and the conduct of intelligence activities directed at the Trump campaign.” The Justice Department released the special counsel’s report, with redactions, to Congress and the public on April 18.
The CNN poll also found that Americans are increasingly feeling that Democrats in Congress are doing “too much” probing of the president. In March, 38 percent believed this; the latest results, meanwhile, show the number jump to 44 percent. The shift mainly comes from independents, with 46 percent of them voting in the poll along those lines.
In contrast, only 25 percent of those polled believed Congress is doing “too little” in their investigations into the president while 28 percent said it was just the “right amount.”
Trump’s approval rating also stands at its highest level according to CNN’s polling since April 2017, with 43 percent approving his job as president.
Meanwhile, Barr also committed on May 1 to brief congressional lawmakers on the possibility that senior FBI officials used counterintelligence briefings with Trump’s transition team to gather intelligence on the incoming administration. Barr made the commitment during his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Justice Department’s investigation of Russian interference.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote a letter to Barr on April 25 requesting a briefing about Barr’s ongoing review of spying on Trump’s campaign. In that letter, Grassley cited text messages between former senior FBI officials Lisa Page and Peter Strzok that, according to Grassley, appear to suggest that the bureau used counterintelligence briefings with Trump’s transition team “as intelligence gathering operations.”
Trump called out the initiators of the probe in a May 1 post on Twitter.
“NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION,” he wrote. “Besides, how can you have Obstruction when not only was there No Collusion (by Trump), but the bad actions were done by the “other” side? The greatest con-job in the history of American Politics!”
Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.