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Most Say Clinton Hiding Something in Deleted E-mails, Don’t Balk at Russia’s Help

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Voters are very suspicious about the 30,000 e-mails Hillary Clinton and her staff chose to delete and not turn over to the FBI and aren’t all together sure it would be a bad thing if Russia returned those e-mails to investigators here.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone and online survey finds that 62% of Likely U.S. Voters think it is likely Clinton and her staff deleted those e-mails to hide something incriminating from the FBI, with 45% who say it’s Very Likely. Thirty-five percent (35%) say it’s unlikely they were trying to hide anything, but that includes only 15% who say it’s Not At All Likely. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

The FBI has concluded that Clinton potentially exposed top secret information to hostile countries when she illegally used a private e-mail server as secretary of State. Most voters disagree with FBI Director James Comey’s decision not to seek a criminal indictment against the Democratic presidential nominee. 

Clinton’s Republican rival Donald Trump suggested last week that if the Russians have the missing 30,000 Clinton e-mails, they should turn them over to the FBI. Just 34% of voters feel it would be bad for U.S.-Russia relations if the Russians had obtained Clinton’s e-mail through cyberspying and now turned them over to the FBI. Twenty-seven percent (27%) say such a move would be good for relations between the two countries, while 26% think it would have no impact. Thirteen percent (13%) are not sure.

The Obama administration and senior Democrats have been highly critical of Trump’s suggestion. They already are charging that the Russian government is behind the recent WikiLeaks release of embarrassing internal party e-mails just before last week’s Democratic national convention, but proof of Russian computer hacking has not been made public.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on July 28 and 31, 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.

Sixty-five percent (65%) of voters 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 prior to Comey’s announcement last month, 71% of Democrats said Clinton should keep running even if indicted until a court determines her guilt or innocence.

Given Clinton’s selection last week as the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential nominee, it’s hardly surprising that there is sharp partisan disagreement on these latest questions. While 74% of Republicans and a plurality (44%) of voters not affiliated with either major party consider it Very Likely that Clinton and her staff deleted those e-mails to hide something incriminating from the FBI, just 19% of Democrats agree.

Republicans are less likely than the others to think it would be bad for U.S.-Russia relations if the Russians had obtained Clinton’s deleted e-mails through cyberspying and now turn them over to the FBI. Interestingly, however, GOP voters historically have been much more critical of Russia than Democrats and unaffiliateds.

Men are more suspicious than women that Clinton is hiding something, but most women agree that it’s likely. Most voters of all ages agree it’s likely Clinton and her staff deleted those e-mails to hide something incriminating.

Black voters remain Clinton’s most loyal base of support. Only 13% of blacks think it is Very Likely the e-mails were deleted to hide something, a view held by 50% of whites and 46% of other minority voters.

Among voters who consider it Very Likely that Clinton and her staff were hiding something, 43% think it would be good for U.S.-Russia relations if the Russian government turned those e-mails over to the FBI. Twenty-five percent (25%) say it would be bad for the relationship, and 21% say it would have no impact.

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

When it was first disclosed in March of last year that Clinton was using a private e-mail server while secretary of State, 39% of all voters said she was deliberately trying to hide things from government oversight, but 30% didn’t think that was true. Just as many (31%) were undecided. The e-mails in question include the period in September 2012 when the U.S. ambassador and three other U.S. Embassy employees were murdered in Benghazi, Libya.

Following the release in June of the final congressional committee report on the Benghazi incident, 49% of voters said Clinton lied to the victims’ families about the nature of the attack.

As recently as last December, most U.S. voters still didn’t care too much for Russian President Vladimir Putin but didn’t think his praise of Trump would hurt the latter’s bid for the presidency.  At the same time, voters agreed with Trump that the deteriorating relationship between the United States and Russia is not good for America.

However, most voters believe a major cyberattack on the United States by another country should be viewed as an act of war. 

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

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