In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, former President Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia and Ukraine while in office faces new scrutiny, but recent polling found many Americans don’t remember the details of what happened.
YouGov polling released last week found most people don’t remember why Trump was impeached the first time. When asked, just a quarter of respondents said “Ukraine,” and only 3% mentioned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy by name.
“I followed it when it happened, but my memory fails me now as to what it was for,” one respondent said, according to YouGov. “I know I was in favor of it.”
The polling shows as Russia and Ukraine take on new prominence in U.S. foreign policy, many Americans have forgotten Trump’s record. Here are four issues the poll also asked about:
Trump temporarily withheld military aid from Ukraine
Trump temporarily blocked all U.S. military aid to Ukraine in 2019 and was later impeached as a result of what happened, but the poll found many Americans are unclear about Trump’s record on aid for Ukraine.
According to the poll, 39% of U.S. adults think Trump withheld military aid to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to investigate allegations of corruption against the Biden family, down from 48% in Nov. 2019.
Trump blocked aid to Ukraine, and he later pressured Zelenskyy to announce investigations in connection to Hillary Clinton and Hunter Biden. Following Trump’s July 2019 call with Zelenskyy, a whistleblower filed a report about the account, which was corroborated by the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
Trump would go on to be impeached in the House for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The Senate voted to acquit on a party-line vote, with the exception of Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who voted guilty on the abuse of power charge. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said earlier this month he regrets not voting to impeach.
“Donald Trump withheld lethal aid to Ukraine so he could use it as leverage for his campaign,” Kinzinger tweeted earlier this month. “This is a shameful and illegal act, directly hurting the Ukraine defense today.”
Trump’s Office of Management and Budget eventually released the U.S. aid to Ukraine on Sept. 11, 2019, without Zelenskyy announcing the investigations.
Russia interfered in the 2016 election
Russia interfered in the 2016 election, according to U.S. intelligence, and grand juries indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers, 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies in 2018 in connection with Russian interference efforts.
The poll found 45% of Americans believe Russia interfered, down from 55% in Nov. 2019. Interestingly, the drop is due to a 10% increase in a belief that Russia didn’t interfere among Democrats, while Republican beliefs have barely budged in two-and-a-half years.
The 12 Russian intelligence officers who were indicted worked for the GRU, Russia’s intelligence agency. The officers were accused of hacking computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Committee, and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and of coordinating the release of emails and documents.
The 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies were accused of information warfare. Fake social media accounts run by employees of a so-called “troll farm” posed as Americans who posted political content online, recruited and paid American citizens to hold political rallies, and ran political ads. Facebook said as many as 126 million Americans may have seen Russian posts.
Trump’s Justice Department said there were no allegations that any Americans knowingly participated with the indicted Russians, nor that the vote count was changed.
Ukraine did not interfere with the 2016 election
Trump and Putin have both falsely suggested that it was Ukraine and not Russia that interfered in the 2016 election, and most Americans don’t buy it. According to the poll, 64% believe Ukraine did not interfere in the election, up from 46% in Nov. 2019.
U.S. intelligence during the Trump administration said there was no evidence Ukraine was involved in election interference in the U.S.
Trump wanted Russia to be readmitted to G7 after it had been kicked out for annexing Ukraine’s Crimea
While president, Trump called for inviting Russia back into G7 after the country was expelled in 2014 following the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. Other G7 countries didn’t agree, and neither do most Americans. The poll found 58% oppose Russia rejoining the G7, up from 39% in June 2018.