Most Americans say senior Trump officials probably had 'improper' contact with Russian Federation

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House

A new national Pew Research Center poll released Thursday shows that President Donald Trump's approval rating is declining among demographic groups that previously gave him relatively high numbers, particularly among evangelicals.

At the same time, 67% of Americans believe that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's decision to plead guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about contact with the Russian ambassador and cooperate with the special counsel is a serious matter for the Trump administration.

The results are skewed along partisan lines.

Democrats and Republicans were starkly divided in their beliefs on the issue. About a quarter of conservatives said that the officials likely had improper contacts, while more than 80 percent of liberals did. Among Democratic and Democratic-leaning respondents, that number was 82 percent, according to the Pew poll.

The center conducted the survey as former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn was pleading guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his conversations with Russia's ambassador in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of potential ties between the campaign and Russian operatives during the 2016 presidential election.

According to the Pew survey, a slight majority of Americans are either very or somewhat confident that Mueller will handle the Russian Federation investigation fairly.

The poll was conducted between November 29 and December 4, and has a margin of sampling error of 2.9 percentage points.

In a major development last week, Michael Flynn, Trump's first national security adviser, pleaded guilty to lying to Federal Bureau of Investigation officials about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the month before Trump took office.

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