Few Believe Trump’s Walk-Back on Russian Interference, New Poll Finds

Only a quarter of respondents believe Trump meant to say ‘wouldn’t’

Twenty-five percent of Americans believe President Donald Trump’s walk-back of his statements on Russian interference, according to a new poll. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

One in four American adults believe President Donald Trump’s walk-back of his statement questioning Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to a new poll.

At a press conference last week with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Trump said “I don’t see why it would be Russia” who interfered in the election, siding with Putin’s denials over the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies.

Then, after returning to Washington, Trump tried to quell the backlash from the statement, saying he accepted conclusions of Russian interference, and that he’d meant to say “I don’t see why it wouldn’t be Russia” instead of the opposite.

But only 25 percent of Americans believe his take-back, according to an  Economist/YouGov poll released Wednesday. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said they think Trump really meant it when he cast doubt on the election interference, while 36 percent said they were not sure.

Republicans were twice as likely to believe Trump’s clarification than Democrats: 37 percent of Republicans said they believed it, compared to 19 percent of Democrats. A majority of Democrats said Trump was sincere the first time, while a plurality of Republicans were unsure.

Moreover, 40 percent of respondents said Trump believes Putin more than his intelligence agencies, while 23 percent said he believes the intelligence agencies more.

The results show Trump did not manage to convince many respondents — even in his own party — that his ground-shaking comments in Helsinki were a simple slip of the tongue.

However, his walk-back may have at least stirred up some uncertainty.

Half the country said they believe Russia interfered in the election, with 24 percent saying they believe it did not. Among Republicans, only 31 percent agreed with the conclusion that Russia interfered and 42 percent said Russia did not interfere.

After Democratic leaders raised the possibility Putin had compromising material on Trump and could be using it to blackmail him, 61 percent of Democrats said they believe it, 13 percent said they doubt it and 26 percent remained unsure. Only eight percent of Republicans said Putin has compromising material and 67 percent said he doesn’t.

Eighty percent of Democrats and half the Republicans polled said Putin either had “a little” or “a lot” of influence on Trump’s thinking.

The parties were split on whether Trump’s relationship with Putin is a good or bad thing for the country, with 65 percent of Republicans saying it was a good thing, and 70 percent of Democrats saying it was bad.

The internet poll of 1,500 U.S. adults was conducted July 22-24 and carried a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percent.

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