Donald Trump this week finally came around (kind of) to the intelligence community's conclusion that Russia engaged in hacking in an attempt to influence the 2016 U.S. election. But he remains dubious about its conclusion that the effort was intended to help him — or that it did so.
And as it turns out, so do the vast majority of Republicans.
According to a new Quinnipiac University poll — conducted, notably, before the Wednesday news conference at which Trump said he thought Russia did it — 64 percent of Republicans disagreed that “the Russian government interfered with the 2016 presidential election through hacking.” Just 29 percent agreed.
Digging down deeper, of the 29 percent of Republicans who agreed that Russia tried, just 43 percent of them said it was intended to help Trump. A majority — 51 percent — disagreed.
So that's about 1 in 8 Republicans who believe the intelligence community's consensus conclusion that Russia hacked and that it specifically did so to help Trump in the 2016 election.
This despite the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency having released a report stating as much on Friday. That was the second day that the poll was being conducted, but previous reports indicated there was widespread agreement in the intelligence community that the effort was geared toward helping Trump.
This also despite the fact that Trump is one of few Republican politicians who have publicly expressed doubts about Russia's involvement. While some in the GOP establishment aren't willing to concede that the effort was intended to help Trump, few have questioned the overarching intelligence that says Russia at least attempted to interfere.
At Wednesday's news conference, Trump granted that Russia appeared to have been behind the hacking. (He previously said it could have been China or random individuals within the United States.) “As far as hacking, I think it was Russia,” he said. Then, later in the news conference, he added a qualifier: “But, you know what, it could have been others also.”
Trump has frequently referred to the Russian hacking story line as a “political witch hunt,” and has even at times pitted himself against the intelligence community in an adversarial way. At one point he tweeted that the intelligence community was building “a case” against him. He has also referred skeptically to the intelligence community by putting the word in quotation marks more than once, and suggested that the intelligence community leaked that dossier full of unconfirmed and salacious claims about how Russia may have gathered compromising information on him.
The Q poll isn't the first to suggest broad skepticism about the intelligence in GOP circles. A Pew Research Center poll this week showed an even split among Republicans and Republican-leaning voters (a larger universe) on the question of whether Russia was behind the hacking. While 48 percent of those who had heard of the allegations thought it was at least probable that Russia was behind the hacks, 47 percent said it was at least probable that Russia was not.
The new Q poll, it bears noting, also shows GOP skepticism about the intelligence community's job performance. Asked whether they approved of the job the CIA was doing, 36 percent of Republicans said yes, while 39 percent said no.
So here we are in a situation in which a large portion of one political party in the United States doubts and dislikes the intelligence community — owing in large part, no doubt, to Trump's frequent efforts to continue to sow that doubt.