Poll: half of US voters think Russia has damaging information on Trump

Quinnipiac University study shows plunging approval ratings for the US president following Helsinki summit

FILE In this file photo taken on Monday, July 16, 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hand with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the end of the press conference after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland. Pavel Palazhchenko was a constant presence as chief interpreter for Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, and watched  from Moscow to see how the latest chapter in the US-Soviet story would unfold.  During an interview Monday July 23, 2018, Palazchenko declined to call the latest Helsinki meeting between US President Trump and Russian President Putin an outright failure, but said there seems a lack of clarity on exactly what the two agreed on.  (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
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Eight days after the Helsinki summit, the backlash on US President Donald Trump is now felt on his approval numbers and leadership approach, according to a latest poll by Quinnipiac University.

The numbers released on Tuesday show Mr Trump's approval at 38 per cent, with a 58 per cent disapproving. But perhaps the more interesting aspect of the poll, conducted between July 18 and 23, is the negative feedback on the meeting itself and the US president's handling of Russia.

Mr Trump undermined the findings of US intelligence agencies on Russian meddling in his press conference with Mr Putin but has been trying to walk back on these assertions since then.

According to the poll, 51 per cent of US voters believe "that the Russian government has compromising information about President Trump" while 35 per cent say that is not the case.

More broadly, 54 per cent of those polled find Mr Trump to be weak on Russia:

Another 69 per cent now say they have right to know what was said in the two-hour closed meeting between Mr Trump and Mr Putin:

A majority of voters (73 per cent) considered Russia to have succeeded in Helsinki while only 27 per cent said US did.

Mr Trump's handling of Nato relations also was judged. Among the pollsters, 51 per cent said Mr Trump has weakened US leadership abroad, while 35 per cent said he strengthened it.

As many as 78 per cent of the voters want Mr Trump to defend Nato allies, but 53 per cent said the US president wants what is best for himself.

In another worrying trend for Mr Trump, the poll revealed rising support for Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the US 2016 election. While 54 per cent said it was legitimate, 40 per cent think it is a witch-hunt.

Mr Trump has defended his performance at Helsinki and reiterated his tough views on Russia on Tuesday.

He tweeted “I’m very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election. Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don’t want Trump!”

The White House is also inviting Mr Putin to Washington this fall, for a first visit of a kind since 2005.