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Exclusive-Most Republicans see politics behind Trump indictment -Reuters/Ipsos poll

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By Jason Lange

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A vast majority of Republicans believe federal criminal charges against Donald Trump are politically motivated, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll completed on Monday that also showed him far ahead of his nearest rival in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

The polling, which began on Friday, a day after Trump was indicted, found that 81% of self-identified Republicans said politics was driving the case, reflecting the deep polarization of the U.S. electorate. President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has repeatedly said he has no involvement in the case brought by the Department of Justice.

The number of Republicans who believe the former president is being unfairly targeted vastly exceeds the 30-35% of Trump supporters who are estimated by political analysts to make up his core base.

Some 62% of respondents in the Reuters/Ipsos poll, including 91% of Democrats and 35% of Republicans, said it was believable that Trump illegally stored classified documents at his home in Florida as alleged by prosecutors.

The indictment did not appear to dent Trump’s standing in the Republican nominating contest for the 2024 presidential election. The specific charges, including obstruction of justice, became public on Friday afternoon when the indictment was unsealed.

Some 43% of self-identified Republicans said Trump was their preferred candidate, compared to 22% who picked Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Trump’s closest rival.

In early May, Trump led DeSantis 49% to 19%, but that was before DeSantis formally entered the race.

The rest of the Republican field, which includes former Vice President Mike Pence who declared his candidacy last week, had low single-digit levels of support.

Trump flew to Miami on Monday to face federal charges of unlawfully keeping U.S. national security documents and lying to officials who tried to recover them. Trump, who will appear in court on Tuesday, has proclaimed his innocence and vowed to continue his campaign to regain the presidency in the November 2024 general election.

Many Republican contenders in the 2024 race have accused the U.S. Justice Department of political bias and say it is being “weaponized” against Biden’s biggest Republican challenger. The department says all investigative decisions are made without regard to partisan politics.

Trump also faces charges in New York in a state criminal case related to alleged hush money payments to a pornographic film star. A Reuters/Ipsos poll in March found that Republicans also saw that investigation as politically motivated.

Biden’s approval rating stood at 41% last week, close to the lowest level of his presidency. Trump had a 40% approval rating at this point in his 2017-2021 presidency.

The latest poll included responses from 1,005 adults nationwide and had a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of 4 percentage points for all voting-age Americans and between 6 and 7 percentage points for Republicans.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Andy Sullivan, Ross Colvin and Howard Goller)

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