As a general rule, Americans were not really happy with the way President Trump handled his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. But the usual polarization means that the withering criticism Trump received from both sides of the aisle in Washington has not really transferred to the public as a whole.
Overall, 50 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Trump handled the meeting with Putin, with only 33 percent saying they approve, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll. A slightly larger proportion of Americans—56 percent—disapprove of the way Trump expressed doubts about the conclusions from U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia tried to influence the U.S. election. And strong feelings are clearly one sided with 41 percent saying they disapprove “strongly” of the intelligence questioning compared to only 14 percent who approve “strongly.”
While both Democrats and Republicans said over the past week that Trump went “too far” in his support of Putin, only 40 percent of Americans agree. Meanwhile, almost the same proportion of Americans—35 percent—say Trump handled Putin “about right” and 15 percent are on the other end of the spectrum saying the U.S. president didn’t go far enough in his support for Putin.
While almost half of Americans—47 percent—say the country’s leadership in the world has gotten weaker under Trump, 30 percent say it has gotten stronger. But even though those numbers look like bad news for the administration, they are actually an improvement for Trump from late last year. In November, the proportion of Americans who said America’s leadership had gotten weaker was 27 percentage points rather than the current 17.
Trump once again took to Twitter Sunday to criticize the news media for the coverage of the Helsinki summit. “I had a GREAT meeting with Putin and the Fake News used every bit of their energy to try and disparage it,” Trump wrote. “So bad for our country!”