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In Iowa, News of Russia Investigation Falls Flat

Photographer Mark Peterson traveled to the Midwestern state to find out how Iowans think Donald Trump's presidency is progressing.

View of a farm field in Cedar Rapids, Iowa-- part of Iowa's 1st Congressional District, which also includes Dubuque. The area is 90 percent white and increasingly elderly, and also happens to have gone blue for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. In 2016, however, Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton lost the district to Trump by four points.

Mark Peterson / Redux for NBC

Elizabeth Bemer (left) and her daughter, Diana Bemer (right), sit on their steps as they talk about Trump.

"I can't say anything good about him. I would have voted for her but I would have liked to have voted for Bill again," Elizabeth said. To which Diana responded: "You always say you vote for who is the most beautiful, so that's why you would have voted for Bill again."

Mark Peterson / Redux for NBC

Greg Stokesberry, of Cedar Rapids said, "Trump's not worth a damn. I had no faith in him during the election and he has proven me right on all accounts," he continued. "He hasn't a clue."

Mark Peterson / Redux for NBC
Shadows cast by members of a Cedar Rapids minor league baseball team named the Kernals as they play a game. Mark Peterson / Redux for NBC

Members of a Cedar Rapids minor league baseball team laugh with a game mascot.

Mark Peterson / Redux for NBC
Jeff Middleton, 27, and his son Jeff Jr. go fishing in the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids. Mark Peterson / Redux for NBC

Vietnam War veteran Jim Wagner leans into the window of his 1941 international pick-up.

Wagner earned a Purple Heart for his service, and later founded the Veterans Freedom Center in Dubuque, Iowa. Asked about the Russia investigation, Wagner said, "People are making too much of it. I don't think there was really anything going on. I just wish [Trump] would shut everybody up and tell them instead of playing the game. I didn't vote for him, but if he can put it to bed, he ought to. Right now," Wagner added, "I'm more worried about the economy and that [the Trump administration] want[s] to take the VA and privatize it. That ain't gonna work."

Mark Peterson / Redux for NBC
Details at a charity auction at the Salvation Army in Dubuque. Mark Peterson / Redux for NBC
Cake at the snack table during the auction. Mark Peterson / Redux for NBC
Driving through the farm fields of Iowa. Mark Peterson / Redux for NBC

Shaun Kelly fishes along the Cedar River. The 42 year-old said he took down the American flag hanging outside his house when Trump won the election. He said he is convinced that the president does not represent "little people who make the world go round."

"We all know he's in cahoots with them Russians," Kelly said. "I feel like he's a traitor to the country. He's not about us -- he's about money. He should never have been president."

Mark Peterson / Redux for NBC

Brothers Tom (right) and Gary (left)-- who declined to give their real names-- fish along the river. Talking about the president, Tom said the big problem is his inability to keep quiet.

"I think if he keeps going on the way he's going with his mouth that's going to be his downfall," he said. "Seriously, with this Russia stuff I hope that Trump just shuts his mouth and lets it be."

Meanwhile, Gary made the case that it's business Trump is interested in: "He's a businessman; he's not a politician," Gary said. "People need to understand that people in business will do whatever they can to make money. I'm not thinking he's trying to make this country Russian, but he's a businessman and he's had all kinds of dealings with different countries."

Mark Peterson / Redux for NBC
A sculpture of Grant Wood's classic american painting, American Gothic. Mark Peterson / Redux for NBC

Mason Darrell Fremont poses in the Masonic Library and Museum in Cedar Rapids while talking about the presidency. "My personal feeling is I respect the office," he said. "No one is perfect. I'm sure he will be guided to do what is right."

Mark Peterson / Redux for NBC
"I still have hope for him" said Mike Grassfield, of Anamosa, Iowa. "I think he was the best of the bunch between Trump, Hillary, and Bernie. I work my ass off and I don't want things given to people for free. I hope he can do what he said he was going to do." Mark Peterson / Redux for NBC
Cindy Brennaman tidies her shop in Anamosa. "I think he's a piece of crap," she said. Mark Peterson / Redux for NBC
Names are engraved into bricks at Memorial Park in Cedar Rapids. Mark Peterson / Redux for NBC
Donna Selk, of Anamosa, holds the uniform her husband wore as a child as she talks about how she thinks Trump's presidency is going so far. "If the liberals would leave him alone and give him a chance we would be better off. I think he's dong great his trip to Europe went great." Mark Peterson / Redux for NBC

"I'm not going to cut him down but I don't think it would have been any different if she had gotten elected," said Joe Dougherty, of Dubuque, in Aragon Tap.

Mark Peterson / Redux for NBC
Details at the Aragon Tap. Mark Peterson / Redux for NBC
A Trump Pence sign still hangs on a gate in a farm field. Mark Peterson / Redux for NBC
Pat Steffensmesier and his son Matt on their 201 acre farm in Dyersville, Iowa. He said it's too "early to tell" how President Trump will do in the White House. "He has a long road a head of him," he added. "And they aren't making it easy for him." Mark Peterson / Redux for NBC
A Grant Wood painting at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. Mark Peterson / Redux for NBC