Only a third of Americans approved of the way President Trump handled his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. But a clear majority of Republicans — 70 percent of them — approved of how Trump performed there, according to a new CBS poll.
Trump was accused of kowtowing to Putin at the summit after U.S. intelligence agencies have repeatedly concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
“I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” Trump said Monday in a joint news conference with Putin.
A day later, Trump walked back his comments, saying that he “misspoke” when he told reporters “I don’t see any reason it would be” Russia that meddled in 2016.
While Trump went into damage-control mode after an uproar over his posture toward Putin, most Republicans were okay with Trump's original comments, according to the CBS poll. That's likely, in part, because only half of Republicans (51 percent) believe U.S. intelligence over Russia. Overall, the majority of Americans — 70 percent — believe U.S. intelligence over Russia.
The percentage of Americans who think Trump is too friendly toward Russia has grown since last year. Nearly half — 46 percent — think Trump is too friendly, compared to 35 percent last year. The growth is mainly among Democrats and independents. And perhaps as a result, nearly 4 in 10 Americans feel less confident about Trump's ability to stand up for U.S. interests after the summit.
But this is not the case with Republicans. Most Republicans' confidence in Trump's ability to stand up to Russia has increased or remains unchanged following the summit. And more Republicans view Russia favorably when compared to Democrats, with a higher number of Republicans calling Russia “friendly” or an “ally” (59 percent) compared to Americans overall (43 percent).
And despite U.S. intelligence reports that Russia is a threat to interfere in future elections, the majority of Republicans — 61 percent — are not concerned about Russian attempts to interfere in future elections.