It's been a week since President Donald Trump’s widely panned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and a new poll shows that a majority of Americans believes the Kremlin has compromising information on the American leader.
By a 51-to-35 percent margin, U.S. voters are convinced the Russian government has dirt on Trump, according to a Quinnipiac University National Poll.
At a press conference in Helsinki on July 16, Trump stunned the world by accepting Putin's denial that Russia attacked the 2016 U.S. election, thus contradicting the findings of 17 U.S. intelligence agencies.
“I don’t see any reason why it would be Russia,” Trump said. He tried to walk it back a day later by saying he had misspoken.
Trump’s performance at the summit, widely criticized on Capitol Hill by both parties, has raised further suspicions that Moscow has collected compromising material on the president as part of a wider campaign to influence the American political system. Allegations of the existence of such material surfaced with the disclosure of a dossier compiled by a former British intelligence officer who was paid by Democrats to collect damaging information on Trump during the 2016 campaign.
The new poll also showed a decline in Americans' approval of Trump's overall job performance. His approval now sits at 38 percent, compared with 58 percent disapproval. His approval rating fell five points from a June 20 Quinnipiac poll that followed the president’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The Real Clear Politics average of polls shows that Trump's rating is underwater by nearly 10 points.
Republicans largely stand behind the president when it comes to Russia. Only 18 percent of GOP voters believe that Moscow has such information on Trump; some 70 percent say they don’t think the allegations are true, the latest Quinnipiac poll found.
Another silver lining for the president: Voters overall aren't convinced that Trump himself colluded with Russia to interfere in the election, by a 48-to-39 percent margin. But they’re divided on whether the Trump campaign in general did so; some 46 percent say it did, and 44 percent say it did not.
Overall, voters deemed the Helsinki summit a failure for the U.S., by a 52-to-27 percent margin. Some 73 percent believe the summit was a success for Russia. Trump was not acting in the best interest of the U.S., according to 54 percent of voters surveyed. And 78 percent of voters said Trump should defend all of America's NATO allies.
The Helsinki summit left 68 percent of American voters "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" about President Trump's relationship with Russia.