During yesterday's press conference, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Donald Trump will not address any of the media's questions about the ongoing probe into Russian collusion because Americans do not care about the issue.
“We spend more time on that than we do any other topic despite the fact that time and time again, poll after poll says that frankly no one cares about this issue, and it's certainly not the thing that keeps people up at night," Sanders said, though she failed to cite a poll showing that “no one” cares about the Russia investigation. The Washington Post notes that it's also "highly unlikely that a reliable poll exists with results showing that zero people care about the Russia investigation."
You can watch the exchange below:
Our @margbrennan asks @PressSec if the president will address ongoing Russia probe in tomorrow’s address:
“No one cares about this issue and it is not the thing that keeps people up at night.” https://t.co/bjbQKpQEKmpic.twitter.com/LDh3tnj2fj
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) January 29, 2018
But Sanders is wrong: Many Americans do care about the investigation––and the president's role in it. In fact, a recent Washington Post-ABC poll examined just how interested the American people are in the Russia investigation. The poll results showed that nearly half of the country (49 percent of Americans) believe the president interfered in the Russia investigation in a way that amounts to obstruction of justice. 26 percent of those surveyed believe there is "solid evidence" to support that belief.
The Washington Post poll, which was released the week it confirmed a New York Times report that the president attempted to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller last June, showed that "sizable percentages of the demographic groups that helped elect Trump think Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia," a group which includes:
- 27 percent of those surveyed who identify as conservative
- 14 percent of those surveyed who identify as Republican, and 17 percent of those surveyed who say they "lean Republican"
- 36 percent of white non-college Americans
- 43 percent of Americans 65 and older believe Trump interfered
- 36 percent of white men believe he interfered
Sanders has, in the past, to polls as proof that Americans don't care about the Russia probe despite how often the president's allies dismiss polls which say anything unfavorable about the administration. Last fall, for example, about Trump's constantly low approval ratings in a Fox News poll, Sanders said: “The numbers that we’re focused on are the ones that actually impact day-to-day life for all Americans. That’s what we’re focused on, certainly not silly polls that frankly weren’t much use to us in the election and certainly I don’t think are now.”
Sanders also sparred with Savannah Guthrie on Today over the president's tendency to attack figures involved in the Russia probe.
"One by one, he has gone after every single one of the Justice Department officials who is connected to this, whether it's his own attorney general, whether it's the former director of the FBI, James Comey, who he fired, whether it's Andrew McCabe, the deputy director of the FBI — even saying he would fire Director Mueller," Guthrie said. "If there's nothing to see here and he's innocent, why does he go after all the Justice Department officials connected to the Russia investigation? Doesn't it, at a minimum, look bad?"
Sanders' response was yet another defense of the administration which bemoaned the investigation: "We've been fully cooperative," Sanders said. "We volunteered thousands and thousands of documents. Over 20 different individuals have done interviews — we've been as transparent as possible about this process."
After Guthrie said that the president had "gone after every single person at the top of this investigation," she asked Sanders: "If there's nothing to see here and he wants to cooperate, why does he continually go after people who are connected to the investigation?"
"Frankly if some of these individuals were 'just trying to do the investigation,' they would have done it and it would have been wrapped up," Sanders replied, adding that the American people were "sick and tired of being inundated with Russia fever."
"Would you agree, though, that had the president not fired Director Comey, there wouldn't be a special counsel and a special investigation and an obstruction-of-justice investigation that centers around him?" Guthrie asked. "Didn't his own actions bring this upon himself?"
The Trump administration had been finding "more and more reason" that Comey "shouldn't have been the head of the FBI," Sanders said, accusing him of leaking information, namely memos which documented his interactions with Trump during that stage of the investigation.