Americans Aren’t Buying “Total Exoneration”

Here’s what’s behind Trump’s tweet storm: Americans aren’t buying that the Mueller Report “totally exonerated” him. We need to keep up pushing back against the Trump/GOP storyline of exoneration, which Attorney-General Barr launched with his four-page misleading summary of the Mueller Report on March 24. The Barr Summary has not withstood the test of time.

A new survey by Navigator Research shows that the conservative talking point on “exoneration” failed to break through. Navigator concludes:

Americans are very aware of the completion of the Special Counsel investigation, submitted by Robert Mueller to the Department of Justice in late March. Nearly every respondent polled (97%) had heard at least a little about the end of the investigation, including 41% who had heard a lot. The survey was conducted April 1-7, roughly a week after Barr went public on March 25.

But the share who accept the Trump administration narrative that the yet-to- be-released full report conclusively “exonerates” the president of wrongdoing is much smaller: just 30%. Most Americans either believe the report was inconclusive (45%) or don’t know enough to say (18%). Even among self-identified Republicans, nearly four in ten (38%) do not agree that Trump has been exonerated.

With so many Americans ready to “wait and see,” there is an opening for progressives to continue to make the case for continued scrutiny from Congress.

But how to talk about it? Navigator advises “progressives should focus on current wrongdoing in the Trump administration (e.g., obstruction and abuse of power) rather than on what may seem like re-litigating the 2016 election.”

Respond to Trump’s — and his supporters’ — complaints about exoneration (or wasted time and money) by emphasizing that Mueller’s work was only one piece of a larger puzzle. Potential “collusion” and “obstruction” are not the president’s only problems.  

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