Half of U.S. Republicans believe the left led Jan. 6 violence: Reuters/Ipsos poll

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Capitol Building is stormed by a pro-Trump mob on January 6, 2021
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By Jason Lange

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than half of U.S. Republicans believe the false claim that left-wing protesters led the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot to try to make then-President Donald Trump look bad, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll.

The two-day poll, completed on Wednesday, underscored the deep partisan lens through which many Americans view the assault ahead of high-profile televised hearings in Congress beginning on Thursday.

At the hearing, Democratic-led investigators will spotlight testimony by the Republican former president's top aides and family members in an effort to persuade Americans that the riot was an orchestrated attack on democracy.

The Reuters/Ipsos survey found that many Americans who identify as Republicans hold views at odds with the facts uncovered by the bipartisan congressional investigation and a criminal probe.

Related video: McCarthy says 'everybody in the country' responsible for Jan. 6

Although 55% of the Republicans polled said they believed the riot was led by violent left-wing protesters, nearly all of the 840 people arrested following the attack have been Trump supporters, according to U.S. prosecutors, and FBI Director Christopher Wray has said there was no evidence leftist extremists disguised themselves as Trump supporters during the attack.

The poll found 58% of Republicans said they believed most of the protesters were peaceful and law-abiding, even though four people died on the day of the attack, at least 140 police were assaulted, and one Capitol Police officer who fought against the rioters died the next day.

About two-thirds of Republicans believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump, a persistent view even though state and federal judges dismissed more than 50 lawsuits brought by Trump and his allies challenging the election while reviews and audits found no evidence of widespread fraud.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll found that overwhelming majorities of respondents from both parties thought it was unacceptable for their party's members to use violence to achieve political goals. One in 10 people in each party considered violence to be an appropriate political tool.

The poll was conducted online, in English, throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,004 adults between June 7-8. The poll has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of about 4 percentage points.

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