Large majority supports tougher Russia sanctions, Post-ABC poll finds

Tuesday , April 17, 2018 - 5:41 AM

Scott Clement

(c) 2018, The Washington Post.

Nearly 7 in 10 Americans support tougher U.S. sanctions against Russia, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll that also finds roughly half the public saying President Donald Trump has done “too little” to criticize Russia for alleged violations of international law.

Despite support for penalizing Russia, 52 percent of adults say Trump should invite Vladimir Putin to the White House in an effort to improve U.S.-Russia relations, while 42 percent say Trump should not do so, because it would grant Putin legitimacy.

The Post-ABC poll finds uncommonly broad support for tougher sanctions on Russia, with 74 percent of Democrats along with 68 percent of Republicans and independents favoring tougher penalties. A 66 percent majority of those who strongly approve of Trump back such measures, as do 73 percent of those who strongly disapprove of him.

On Monday, Trump pulled the plug on sanctions aimed at Russian companies behind the equipment related to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s alleged chemical weapons attack, after the sanctions were announced Sunday by Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. The Post reported that administration officials said Haley made an error and said it was unlikely that Trump would approve any additional sanctions without another triggering event by Russia.

In March, the Trump administration expelled 60 Russian diplomats and suspected spies from the United States after Britain accused Russia of attacking a former spy, living in Britain, with a military-grade nerve agent. Russia has denied responsibility, and The Post reported that Trump approved sanctions but was furious after learning that the United States expelled more Russian officials than other individual countries.

The Post-ABC poll finds 49 percent saying Trump has done “too little” to criticize Russia for allegedly violating international law, 38 percent saying he’s handled the issue “about right” and 4 percent thinking that Trump has criticized Russia “too much.” The survey was conducted April 8-11, immediately after Syria’s alleged chemical attack but before Trump launched retaliatory air strikes Friday.

Partisans are deeply divided on this question, with 70 percent of Democrats saying Trump has not criticized Russia enough, while 71 percent of Republicans say he has been about right. Independents are closer to Democrats, with 54 percent saying Trump has done too little.

There are also stark partisan divisions over whether Trump should invite Putin to the White House, a possibility Trump floated during a March phone call after the Russian leader’s reelection. Nearly 7 in 10 Republicans and over half of independents (53 percent) support such a move in an effort to improve U.S.-Russia relations. But among Democrats, 58 percent say Trump should not invite Putin, as it would provide him legitimacy as he allegedly violates international laws.

The Post-ABC poll was conducted April 8 to 11 among a random national sample of 1,002 adults reached on cellular and landline telephones. Overall results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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The Washington Post’s Emily Guskin contributed to this report.

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