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Most Disagree with Decision Not to Indict Clinton

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Most voters disagree with FBI Director James Comey’s decision not to seek a criminal indictment of Hillary Clinton.

The FBI concluded that Clinton potentially exposed top secret information to hostile countries when she used a private e-mail server as secretary of State, but Comey announced yesterday that the FBI has decided not to pursue a criminal indictment in this matter. A Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey – taken last night - finds that 37% of Likely U.S. Voters agree with the FBI’s decision. But 54% disagree and believe the FBI should have sought a criminal indictment of Clinton. Ten percent (10%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Sixty-four percent (64%) of Democrats agree with Comey’s decision not to seek an indictment of their party’s presumptive presidential nominee. Seventy-nine percent (79%) of Republicans, 63% of voters not affiliated with either major political party and 25% of Democrats disagree with the decision.

Many critics of the FBI’s decision claim that lower-level individuals caught mishandling classified information have been subject to prosecution and severe penalties. But 81% of all voters believe powerful people get preferential treatment when they break the law. Just 10% disagree.

Among those who think powerful people get preferential treatment, 63% disagree with the FBI’s decision not to seek a criminal indictment of Clinton. Ninety percent (90%) of those who do not believe the powerful are treated differently agree with the FBI’s action.

If Clinton had been indicted, however, only 46% of all voters think it would have been possible for her to get a fair trial. Thirty-three percent (33%) say a fair trial would not have been possible, but 21% are not sure.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on July 5, 2016 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Voters predicted months ago what the FBI would decide. Sixty-five percent (65%) think it’s likely Clinton broke the law by sending and receiving e-mails containing classified information through a private e-mail server while serving as secretary of State. But just 25% said in January that it was even somewhat likely she would be charged with a felony.

Sixty-two percent (62%) of voters have a favorable opinion of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but that includes only 16% with a Very Favorable one. Twenty-eight percent (28%) share a favorable view of the federal agency, with 11% who see it Very Favorably.

Eighty-two percent (82%) of voters who agree with the Clinton decision have a favorable opinion of the FBI, compared to just 49% of those who disagree.

Men and those 40 and over are more likely to disagree with the Clinton decision than women and younger voters are. Fifty-eight percent (58%) of blacks agree with the FBI’s decision not to pursue a criminal indictment against Clinton; 57% of whites and 60% of other minority voters disagree.

Sixty-four percent (64%) of political liberals agree with the decision not to go after Clinton on criminal charges. Seventy-five percent (75%) of conservatives and 53% of moderates disagree with that decision.

Those who agree with the decision not to seek an indictment are much more doubtful that Clinton could have received a fair trial.

But sizable majorities across nearly every demographic category agree that powerful people get preferential treatment when they break the law.

Seventy-one percent (71%) of Democrats – and 50% of all voters – said in late May that Clinton should keep running for the presidency even if indicted – until a court determines her guilt or innocence. Just 30% of voters give Clinton good or excellent marks for her handling of questions about her use of the private e-mail server while secretary of State. Forty-nine percent (49%) rate her performance as poor.

Fifty-four percent (54%) said earlier this year that the Justice Department should name an independent prosecutor to decide whether criminal charges should be brought against Clinton. Thirty-three percent (33%) disagreed, while 13% were undecided.

Following the release last week of the final report by the special congressional committee investigating the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, 49% of voters believe Clinton lied to the families of those killed in Benghazi about the cause of their deaths.

Even prior to the FBI’s announcement yesterday, Republicans had a lot more confidence in Donald Trump’s honesty than Democrats do in Clinton's.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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To learn more about our methodology, click here.