More Americans now see Mueller probe as justified, CBS News poll finds

/ CBS News

By Anthony Salvanto, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Kabir Khanna

More Americans think the Russia investigation is justified than say it is politically motivated, the first time that's happened in CBS News polling. Still, Republicans continue to take the President's view on the matter, and a majority of Americans – including most Democrats – think Democrats in Congress should focus more on getting their own agenda passed than trying to investigate the President.

Fifty percent of Americans now think the Russia investigation is justified, while just 45 percent think it is politically motivated. As recently as November, a slight majority of Americans felt the investigation was politically motivated.

This shift in opinion is due to more Democrats calling it justified. Eighty-three percent of Republicans continue to say the Russia investigation is politically motivated, the same as in November.

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Sixty-three percent of Americans, including a majority of Democrats, think congressional Democrats should focus more on passing their own agenda rather than investigating President Trump.

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S Sixty-four percent of Americans think it's at least somewhat likely that Trump advisors had improper dealings with Russia before Mr. Trump was elected president, including a third of Republicans. Forty percent of Americans think this is very likely. There's little difference in these results compared to a year ago.

Just thirty-four percent of Americans think Mr. Trump has acted properly in his handling of the Russia investigation. Forty percent think he's done something illegal, and another eighteen percent think he's acted unethically, but legally. Most Republicans think he's acted properly, and most Democrats think he's done something illegal.

Concerning his overall approach to Russia, 46 percent of Americans think he's been too friendly, the same as in July. Most Republicans think his approach has been about right. Most who say he has been too friendly feel he is doing so to serve his own interests, as opposed to trying to establish better relations between the U.S. and Russia.

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This poll was conducted by telephone January 18-21, 2019 among a random sample of 1,102 adults nationwide. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Glen Mills, PA. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones.

The poll employed a random digit dial methodology. For the landline sample, a respondent was randomly selected from all adults in the household. For the cell sample, interviews were conducted with the person who answered the phone.

Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish using live interviewers. The data have been weighted to reflect U.S. Census figures on demographic variables.

The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher and is available by request. The margin of error includes the effects of standard weighting procedures which enlarge sampling error slightly. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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First published on January 23, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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