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Poll: Voters grow weary of Russia probes
A majority of voters believe the Russia investigations are damaging to the country and are eager to see Congress shift its focus to healthcare, terrorism, national security, the economy and jobs.
Those are the findings of the latest Harvard-Harris Poll survey, provided exclusively to The Hill, which paints a complicated picture of voters' opinions about the numerous probes that have engulfed the White House.
Sixty-four percent of voters said the investigations into President Trump and Russia are hurting the country. Fifty-six percent of voters said it's time for Congress and the media to move on to other issues, compared to 44 percent who said the focus should stay on Russia.
But other surveys have found strong support for the special counsel investigating the Russia probe. A Harvard-Harris survey released last month found 75 percent support for former FBI Director Robert Mueller's investigation.
There is evidence in the Harvard-Harris survey that voters are taking the investigations seriously: Fifty-eight percent say they're concerned by allegations of obstruction of justice against Trump, with the same number worried about possible dealings between Trump and the Russian government.
But far more - 73 percent - say they're concerned that the Russia probes have caused Congress to lose focus on the issues important to them. That figure encompasses 81 percent of Republicans, 74 percent of independents and 68 percent of Democrats.
"While the voters have a keen interest in any Russian election interference, they are concerned that the investigations have become a distraction for the president and Congress that is hurting rather than helping the country," said Harvard-Harris co-director Mark Penn. "Most voters believe that the president's actions don't rise to the level of impeachable offenses, even if some of them were inappropriate."
The Harvard-Harris online survey of 2,237 registered voters was conducted between June 19 and June 21. The partisan breakdown is 35 percent Democrat, 29 percent Republican, 30 percent independent and 6 percent other.
The public largely found former FBI Director James Comey to be a credible witness in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Sixty-eight percent believe Comey's claims that the president asked him to bury an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Trump has disputed Comey's testimony.
Sixty-seven percent believe that Trump asked Comey for loyalty. Fifty-eight percent said Comey's private memos about his private conversations with Trump are accurate.
While voters largely believe it was inappropriate of Trump to lean on Comey, most say his actions don't rise to the level of obstruction. Forty-two percent said Trump's actions constitute obstruction of justice, 37 percent said his remarks were inappropriate but not obstruction, and 21 percent said the president was within his rights to pressure Comey.
Fifty-six percent disapprove of Trump firing Comey. Sixty percent said Comey should have announced that Trump was not the target of an investigation.
On the question of collusion, 52 percent said they don't believe Trump coordinated with Moscow to influence the 2016 presidential election. But 54 percent said they believe Trump's associates may have been involved.
Either way, 62 percent of voters say there is currently no hard evidence to support the collusion claims.
Sixty-two percent said they expect that the investigations will not end in impeachment.
Forty-five percent said the investigations into Trump's actions should end with no action, 41 percent said they should end in impeachment and 14 percent said Trump should be censured by Congress.
"Most voters believe that the president's actions don't rise to the level of impeachable offenses even if some of them were inappropriate," said Penn. "There does seem to be about 40 percent very dissatisfied with the president and looking to remove him from office if possible, but the majority of voters think that all of this is going nowhere."
In addition, 62 percent said there exists a campaign to delegitimize the president. This includes 87 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of independents and 40 percent of Democrats.
The Harvard-Harris Poll is a collaboration of the Harvard Center for American Political Studies and The Harris Poll. The Hill will be working with Harvard-Harris throughout 2017. Full poll results will be posted online later this week.
The poll uses a methodology that doesn't produce a traditional margin of error.