Nearly three-quarters of Americans are worried about foreign interference in United States elections — and six in 10 are concerned President Donald Trump isn’t taking it seriously.
A new CNN poll conducted by SSRS released Tuesday found that 58 percent of Americans don’t think the president is taking the investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election to heart. Fifty-five percent of Americans say they think Trump has tried to interfere with the investigation into Russian meddling.
The poll was conducted February 20 to 23 among 1,016 adults.
Democrats appear to be much more concerned about Russian meddling than Republicans. In total, 72 percent of Americans say they are alarmed about foreign interference in US elections, including 90 percent of Democrats, compared to 68 percent of independents and 53 percent of Republicans.
Sixty percent of Americans they aren’t confident in Trump doing enough to prevent foreign countries from influencing future elections — and they don’t think others with the ability to act are going to do much, either. The same amount says they aren’t confident in Congress doing anything, and 63 percent say they didn’t think Facebook, Twitter, and Google would do enough to stop interference.
Trump has publicly doubted Russian meddling in the elections on numerous occasions
If a majority of Americans doubt the president is taking Russian meddling seriously, it’s with good reason: He has repeatedly cast doubt on Russian interference operations in US politics and cast the matter as a “hoax.” (Despite his recent Twitter denial that he has not.) Fact-checking website Politifact declared Trump’s continued proclamations that Russian interference is a “made-up story” as its 2017 Lie of the Year.
He has on more than one occasion accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials of meddling. “Every time he sees me he says, ‘I didn’t do that, and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” Trump said of Putin last November while speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One.
A few months earlier in July, the president said something similar in an interview with Reuters after having met with Putin. “I said, ‘Did you do it?’ And he said, ‘No, I did not. Absolutely not.’ I then asked him a second time in a totally different way. He said absolutely not,” Trump said.
At a September 2016 presidential debate against Democratic President Hillary Clinton, Trump was asked about the Democratic National Committee hack, which was apparently carried out by Russians during the campaign. “She’s saying Russia, Russia, Russia, but I don’t — maybe it was. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, okay?” he said then.
At a February 2017 press conference, Trump said, “The whole Russian thing, that’s a ruse. That’s a ruse.”
In May 2017, soon after firing then-FBI Director James Comey, Trump told NBC News’s Lester Holt that his decision was based on the Russia investigation’s progress. “When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won,’” he said.
In September 2017, he tweeted about Russian ad-buying on Facebook to influence voters, calling it a continuation of the “Russia hoax.”
As recently as last month, Trump was claiming the Russia investigation was a Democratic hoax. “For 11 months, they’ve had this phony cloud over this administration, over our government. And it has hurt our government. It’s a Democratic hoax that was brought up as an excuse for losing an election that frankly the Democrats should have won,” he said at a press conference. At the same conference, he repeated the words “no collusion” seven times in a single answer.
Earlier this month, CNN reported that Trump still remains unconvinced Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
There’s little doubt Russian interference is going to continue
Experts inside and outside of the government are sure Russian efforts to influence US politics will not subside.
“It is going to happen again,” Greg Touhill, president of secure infrastructure company Cyxtera Federal Group and the first United States chief information officer under the Obama administration, recently told me. “It’s happened before, and frankly, it’s happened throughout all of time.”
Dan Coats, director of national intelligence, told the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this month that Russia is almost sure to interfere again in the 2018 midterms. “There should be no doubt that Russia perceives that its past efforts have been successful and views the 2018 midterm US elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations,” Coats, the nation’s top spy, said. “Frankly, the United States is under attack.”
Experts say that counteracting Russian interference efforts must be a concerted effort that involves the White House, multiple federal agencies, state and local officials, private companies, the media, and citizens. And even then, there are no guarantees.
Tuesday’s CNN poll shows Americans are taking it seriously — and it is alarming that they don’t think the president is.