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Republicans more concerned by leaks than Trump team Russian ties: Reuters/Ipsos poll

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Rank-and-file Republicans are more concerned about leaks to the media of conversations between Trump advisers and the Russian government than they are about the conversations themselves, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released Wednesday.

The poll, conducted between Feb. 16 and Feb. 20, shows how President Donald Trump has shifted opinions within the party of Ronald Reagan, where national security has been a top issue since the Cold War, said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

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“Republicans have now put a higher priority on their partisan identification and support for their current leader than principles they have had for many decades,” Sabato said. “We live in such a polarized era.”

Trump asked his national security adviser Michael Flynn to resign this month after news organizations reported he had discussed U.S. sanctions with a Russian diplomat while Barack Obama was still president.

Yet, while the media focused on the contacts with Russia, Trump blamed Flynn’s departure on “criminal” leaks. He said Flynn was treated unfairly and that news reports of the conversations were “fake news.”

“The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington?” Trump said in a tweet.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll attempted to measure which narrative was more credible for Americans. It asked people to pick one of two statements that was “the most concerning to you.”

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The first statement cited “reports that Trump advisors were in repeated contact with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election.” The second cited “U.S. intelligence agents leaking details of conversations between Trump advisors and the Russian government to reporters.”

Overall, 43 percent of Americans said they were most concerned about reports of the contacts with Russia. Another 39 percent said they were concerned about the leaks and 19 percent said they didn’t know.

However, people who identified with the Republican Party appeared to be much more troubled by the leaks. Some 57 percent said the leaks were the bigger concern, while 23 percent said it was the Russian contacts, and another 20 percent didn’t know.

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[Click here for a graphic on the poll: http://tmsnrt.rs/2lLW2OE]

[Click on this link for an interactive view of the data in the Reuters Polling Explorer: http://polling.reuters.com/#poll/TM1163Y17/dates/20170216-20170220/type/overall]

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Gary Crosen, 65, a retiree from Millersville, Md., who took the poll, said he did not think it was a big deal that Flynn spoke with Russia.

“I consider Russia one of our friends,” Crosen said. “And we don’t need to publicize it the way the news media has.

“A lot goes on behind the scenes that we don’t see, and I don’t think you need to bring it all out in the open.”

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The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English in all 50 states. It surveyed 1,562 American adults, including 578 who identified as Republicans. It has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of 3 percentage points for the entire sample and 5 percentage points for Republicans only.

(Reporting by Chris Kahn; Editing by James Dalgleish)


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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2020 Election

Masks take center stage in presidential race as Biden slams Trump for ‘costing people’s lives’

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In an interview with CNN's Dana Bash on Tuesday, former Vice President Joe Biden laid into President Donald Trump for his comments belittling his decision to wear a mask at the Memorial Day events at the beginning of the week.

"He's a fool, an absolute fool to talk that way," said Biden. He added that "This macho stuff ... It's costing people's lives."

Trump has frequently refused to don a mask while speaking to the media, even when he is in public places where masks are required.

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“He’s a fool, an absolute fool to talk that way,” Biden to @DanaBashCNN about Trump belittling his wearing of a mask. “This macho stuff ... It’s costing people’s lives.”

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COVID-19

1 in 5 teachers—citing COVID-19 concerns—likely won’t return to US schools this fall: survey

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While most U.S. schools have ended in-person instruction for the rest of this academic year because of the coronavirus pandemic, polling results published Tuesday show that the majority of parents and teachers expect classrooms to reopen in the fall and worry about what that will mean for safety and education.

In mid-May, Ipsos conducted a pair of online polls for USA Today of K-12 teachers and parents of school-aged children. Pollsters found that if schools reopen in the fall—with strict new rules to limit Covid-19 infections—nearly six in 10 parents would consider not sending their kids back and one in five educators likely would not return to teaching. Among teachers 55 and older, that figure was one in four.

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Trump says he can ‘absolutely’ force governors to reopen churches if he decides to do so

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At Tuesday's coronavirus press briefing, President Donald Trump was pressed on whether he really has the authority to force governors to allow houses of worship to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic. "Can you explain what authority you had in mind when you said that you would do that?" asked a reporter.

The president emphasized that he does have the power — but did not elaborate on how specifically he would do so, and added that he doesn't think he will have to.

"I can absolutely do it if I want to," said Trump. "I don't think I'm going to have to, because it's starting to open up. We need our churches and our synagogues and our mosques. We want them open, churches, synagogues, mosques, and other — we want them open and we want them open as soon as possible."

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