The Facts About Russia and the 2016 Elections
Below we explain the facts behind Russia, Trump, Clinton, and the 2016 elections using official documents. We also offer some opinions, which are clearly marked.
The opinions are meant to offer insight and context beyond what is offered by official reports, we are trying to parse multiple bits of information including official statements and official reports to present a full view of Russia, Trump, Clinton, and the 2016 elections. To tie all that together, we had to be able to offer context and insight.
See the report below for the pure official U.S. take on the matter, this page explains the report in context of what we have since learned.
What We Know About Russia and the 2016 Elections: Did Russia “Hack the U.S. Election,” Tamper With Ballots, Leak Emails, or Run a Public Influence Campaign to Hurt Clinton / Help Trump in 2016?
According to official declassified documents, specifically the January report, Background to “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution (a document produced by select members of the CIA, FBI, and NSA under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence):
There is a high degree of certainty that Russia ordered an influence campaign in 2016 to undermine public faith in the US democratic process and the sway the election.
To be clear, the official January report isn’t saying Russia tampered with ballots or that Trump or his circle colluded in any way (it doesn’t mean this didn’t happen, it means there is no official evidence; See: Here’s what we know so far about Team Trump’s ties to Russian interests.)
Instead, what the report is saying is that it is highly likely (there is a high degree of confidence) that Russia implemented a public influence campaign that included: the use of “troll bots” and “trolls” on social media, hacks (including DNC hacks; as we later learned, with fake documents inserted), leaks to sources like Wikileaks, targeted messaging on Russian state media like RT, and more.
Further, the January report concluded with high confidence that the Kremlin ordered an extensive, multi-pronged propaganda effort “to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.”
However, the report did not attempt to assess what effect the Russian efforts had on the election, and thus offers no evidence that this did occur.
In other words, some [not all] of the fake news, rhetoric, propaganda, “Hillary emails,” leaks, and divisive comments in 2016 were the work of foreign hackers trying to upset American democracy and the western alliance.
The goal this time was to hurt Clinton and help Trump (when it looked like he could win against Clinton), and to sow division in America (and thereby weaken the western alliance and general liberal order).
According to official sources like John Brennan and James Comey, to paraphrase the general concept, next time those being affected could change, but the goal would be the same (meaning both parties should take this seriously, as next time it could be Democrats being helped and Republicans being hurt, but again in order to weaken America and the West).
CORRECTION: It had been reported that this report was signed off on by all 17 intelligence agencies. But that point has been debated. See: A rather large New York Times correction. This doesn’t invalidate the findings, it just adds nuance. The report itself never claims that it was done by 17 agencies, it specifically says, “This report includes an analytic assessment drafted and coordinated among The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and The National Security Agency (NSA), which draws on intelligence information collected and disseminated by those three agencies.”
UPDATE JUNE 9, 2017 ON TRUMP AND RUSSIA: The Comey statement from June 8th, 2017, Statement for the Record Senate Select Committee on Intelligence James B. Comey June 8, 2017, and the subsequent congressional hearing, confirm that (at of the time of Comey’s meeting with Trump in early 2017) Trump was not under investigation by the FBI, that Flynn was under investigation due to his conversations with Russia, that Trump asked Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn (not to drop the entire Russia investigation), and that Russia is thought to have interfered with the election (and that it is a bipartisan issue that affects all Americans). Essentially Comey backs up the conclusions of this page that Russia ran a public influence campaign, that Trump satellites (like Flynn) should be investigated (to see if there was collusion), but that there is no evidence Trump colluded. See: Full text: James Comey testimony transcript on Trump and Russia.
“There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts. It was an active measures campaign driven from the top of that government. There is no fuzz on that. It is a high confidence judgment of the entire intelligence community and the members of this committee have seen the intelligence. It’s not a close call. That happened. That’s about as unfake as you can possibly get. It is very, very serious, which is why it’s so refreshing to see a bipartisan focus on that. This is about America, not about a particular party.” – James Comey
UPDATE JUNE 13, 2017 ON SESSIONS AND RUSSIA: Session held his ground at his hearing and attempted to clear up his claim that there was no wrong doing on his part. He did not deny any of the facts laid out by Comey or the intelligence agencies, instead he attempted to clear up speculation that was prevalent after Comey’s testimony. See: Running transcript: Jeff Sessions’ testimony on Trump and Russia.
UPDATE ON RUSSIA AND HACKING RELATED TO THE ELECTION: New information is being released incrementally. The January 2016 report only discloses a small selection of declassified information, later on June 5th, 2017 it was confirmed via a highly classified report by the NSA obtained by The Intercept that, “Russian Military Intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November’s presidential election.” This report doesn’t conclude that elections were affected, it only concludes that an attempt was made, and concludes it was done by Russian Military Intelligence. Podesta’s emails were also notably hacked via spearfishing, although neither report claims or denies this was connected.) UPDATE: We later learned that in all, the Russian hackers hit systems in a total of 39 states, one of them said. See: Russian Cyber Hacks on U.S. Electoral System Far Wider Than Previously Known.
NOTE: Here we should note that Putin denied the idea that the Russian state acted officially (although this was before the details of the June NSA document were released), and instead suggested Russian nationalists could have acted on their own accord (or that some other power could have framed Russia). So note, no one is denying the general influence campaign, and no one is denying it looks like the actors were Russian (at least in part). The only thing happening is that Putin is officially denying involvement on behalf of their state (to which Susan Rice says “Frankly, he’s lying.”) In other words, while we should factor in the official Russian statement, we should also be giving weight to the joint January report and the specific NSA report released in June which agree with Susan Rice.
With the above in mind, according to the report, it is highly certain the goal of the influence campaign was:
- To ensure Clinton did not win, or to undermine faith in Clinton if she did.
- And, when it looked like Trump might win or could disrupt Clinton, to back him (OPINION: it is likely they also supported figures like Stein and Bernie for the same reason, for example helping to turn “Berniecrats” against Hillary and the DNC, but the report doesn’t address this directly).
- To undermine faith in American Democracy, undermine the western alliance, and to support global populist movements (which, like Le Pen and Trump, tend to be more favorable to Russia, as they are more focused on ISIS than Ukraine, and are more disruptive to western democracy due to their anti NATO, NAFTA, EU, Climate Accord, etc message).
With that said, it can be reasonably inferred (but is not in the official report), that the goal was to:
To retaliate for sanctions placed on Russia over Crimea by the Obama administration (i.e. this was retaliation for Ukraine; likely with the hope that a change in leadership would lead to sanctions being lifted). Here one should note Trump immediately tried to lift sanctions on Russia upon taking office. See: Donald Trump ‘tried to roll back Russia sanctions the moment he got into power’ (this article discusses Paul Manafort, a infamous lobbyist along with Roger Stone who were key figures in Trump’s election campaign and have a long history of working with dictators; Manafort is notably under investigation regarding Russia).
TIP: One should keep in mind that Putin expressed the idea that the American led NATO alliance “falling apart” would be a good thing for Moscow (NATO states encircle Russia). Putin also said to state news agency Itar-Tass, regarding Sweden joining NATO, “If Sweden joins NATO this will affect our relations in a negative way because we will consider that the infrastructure of the military bloc now approaches us from the Swedish side… We will interpret that as an additional threat for Russia and we will think about how to eliminate this threat.” Meanwhile, while Putin told Oliver Stone that he would consider joining NATO. Russia understandably has an interest in not be surrounded by European powers (be we talking about Russian nationalists or state actors, the interest is the same). One has to consider points like this to get a full picture here, simply, Russia has a motive to either be a part of NATO or to make sure it isn’t strong. Hillary getting elected would have only helped strengthen NATO, meanwhile Trump has said “NATO was obsolete” and “costs us a fortune”; recently Trump even changed a speech and failed to support Article 5 (which states we will stand with other NATO states in case of an attack).
Consider these following excerpts from the report:
…Moscow’s influence campaign followed a Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations—such as cyber activity—with overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or “trolls.” Russia, like its Soviet predecessor, has a history of conducting covert influence campaigns focused on US presidential elections that have used intelligence officers and agents and press placements to disparage candidates perceived as hostile to the Kremlin…
…Beginning in June, Putin’s public comments about the US presidential race avoided directly praising President-elect Trump, probably because Kremlin officials thought that any praise from Putin personally would backfire in the United States. Nonetheless, Putin publicly indicated a preference for President-elect Trump’s stated policy to work with Russia, and pro-Kremlin figures spoke highly about what they saw as his Russia-friendly positions on Syria and Ukraine. Putin publicly contrasted the President-elect’s approach to Russia with Secretary Clinton’s “aggressive rhetoric.”…
…We assess with high confidence that Russian military intelligence (General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate or GRU) used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and DCLeaks.com to release US victim data obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media outlets and relayed material to WikiLeaks…
What We Don’t Know For Sure About Russia and the 2016 Election
We should not dismiss what did happen in 2016, but on that same note, we should not assume that we know that which we do not know for sure (there are known unknowns as they say).
Even the official reports are careful to say they have a high degree of certainty, not that they know every detail for sure.
In America we rely on evidence, proof, and the rule of law. That is true for foreign actors and domestic actors.
There is evidence Russia ran a public influence campaign (whether it was official or unofficial is another question), but there is no official evidence Trump or his circle colluded (and there isn’t even an accusation that Russia successfully actually tampered with the voting process).
This isn’t always made clear in the media, but we want to make it super clear here. This, while all very disturbing, doesn’t directly implicate anyone (meaning all speculation on Trump or his circle colluding is just that, speculation).
Hillary’s Claims on Manafort, Stone, Trump, Sinclair, & Russia and the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy
With the above noted, let’s discuss Hillary Clinton’s claims in a recent interview: Full transcript: Hillary Clinton at Code 2017 The former U.S. Secretary of State talks with Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg about the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump and Russia, Russia, Russia.
Hillary had claimed that it is likely Americans guided the Russians in the influence campaign (helping them to know which U.S. states to target), and of course figures Manafort and Flynn stand out in this theory, but she was “jumping the gun” with that accusation. There is no proof of that “Russians Couldn’t Have “Weaponized” Stolen Info Without “Guidance” From Americans With Polling Info.”
We know figures like Stone and Trump ran a legal public influence campaign with the help of Manafort (that is essentially their job description), and we know right-wing media ran their influence campaign (again sort of the whole point of media like Sinclair network, Alex Jones, Breitbart, etc) but that was, underhanded or not, GOP politics as usual (in other words, what Hillary called “the vast-right-wing conspiracy” in the 1990’s is real, it just isn’t illegal).
We also know Russia ran a campaign.
However, connecting the right-wing strategy to the Russian strategy, that is conjecture and is not claimed in the report or backed up by evidence. Thus, that connection is theory, not proven fact.
This again, is not always made clear, and the effect of speculation is divisive (and given part of the point here was to divide America, playing into that hand is not useful).
Furthermore, we should all remember, it is in everyone’s interest to have good relations with other nations. There is little to be gained from a “Third Red Scare.”
Considering More on What We Know We Don’t Know Given the Report
With the above said, it is important to keep in mind that, according to our research:
- There is no declassified evidence that Russia tampered with the election results,
- There is no declassified evidence Trump colluded with Russia (and to be fair, Trump says “there is no collusion“),
- There is no declassified evidence that supports the idea that ALL of Clinton’s email hacks are directly related to Russia,
- There is no declassified evidence that Russian influence campaigns resulted in Hillary losing and Trump winning (after-all, Russia was hardly the only entity using propaganda to divide America in 2016, they may have spurred on the conflict, but it is empirically obvious they did not start it).
Here one should also consider the following points:
- French President Macron’s emails were leaked before the election, and Macron also accused Russia of interfering in their election.
- It is likely Russia backed right-wing populists (through legal and potential illegal means, i.e. in the means explained in the document) to help ensure “neoliberals“ (like Clinton, Macron, etc) didn’t win. This is because it is the “neoliberals” [essentially] put sanctions on Russia. Meanwhile, the right-wing nationalist populists (like Trump, Le Pen, etc) generally take a more positive stance on Russia (and are also, like Russia, generally disruptive to “globalist” figures like Merkel, Obama, Clinton, etc).
- Russia has a long history of interfering in elections, this wasn’t the first attempt, it likely won’t be the last. The unique thing about this election was social media, which helped to spread leaks and talking points. And here we should also note, Russia isn’t the only nation in history who has interfered with democratic elections.
To be very clear, I’ll stat this again, the declassified information does not suggest Trump had direct involvement with Russia, or that every influence campaign run was Russian, or that every hack was Russian.
This means it could turn out that Trump was a victim, just like Clinton, and that there were other players. In fact, in some cases, it could even turn out that Russia was a victim of sorts (getting blamed for the actions of another actor who took great care to make it look like Russia).
For example, unbeknownst to Trump someone on his staff could have been in contact with Russia (as some suggest is the case with Flynn), and another group with capable technology could be trying to make it look like Russia is to blame.
Those “could haves” are of course unsubstantiated theories and opinions meant to get you thinking like the people who deal with very high-level complexities like this.
Part of the problem is that much of the data is still classified, the other part of the problem is that global influence campaigns and international relations are incredibly complex (it is their nature to be this way).
Still, while there are, to use the term again “known unknowns,” there was most certainly a social influence campaign that affected the U.S. elections (this is something anyone on Social Media knows from the divisive comments; often divisive comments are bots or paid trolls, not regular people), and party politics aside this is not something anyone should be taking lightly (or doubting for partisan reason).
That isn’t to say that we won’t learn about more evidence (either unknown or currently classified), it is just that as of May 2017, the above is what we know.
In America we are all, from the poorest citizens to the President, bound by the letter of the law. We are also all innocent until proven guilty. Thus, we have to go off the official word and the letter of the law for now, that official word is as summarized below and stated in the citations.
Below we explain how Russia was or wasn’t involved with the election.
“I was worried by a number of the contacts that the Russians had with U.S. persons,” Brennan said, adding that he did not see proof of collusion before he left office on Jan. 20, but “felt as though the FBI investigation was certainly well-founded and needed to look into those issues.”
“It should be clear to everyone that Russia brazenly interfered in our 2016 presidential election process,” Brennan said at one point, one of several moments in which his words seemed aimed squarely at the president.
NOTE: Most of the information on this page is based on our reading of the official declassified portion of a report by the FBI, CIA, and NSA done under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. One might say, “but this report was done under Obama and we can’t trust it.” However, to that I say, “check yourself there Nelly, if you think you can’t trust our government, you may have been the victim of a Russia (or other) influence campaign meant to divide and conquer America.” With that said, to comfort your fears I would also point to the general wikipedia page on Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections which provides a large list of citations of reports and inquires. See for example: FBI, 5 other agencies probe possible covert Kremlin aid to Trump (this doesn’t imply Trump knew).
WHAT DO WE MEAN BY “RUSSIA”: With the above in mind. On this page “Russia” means Moscow, Putin, Russian military intelligence, and/or the Russian Government unless otherwise noted. Although a specific actor might be noteworthy on a single topic, I want to present this broadly (so it lines up with how it is presented in the media). With that said, there may be cases where “Russia” is referring to, or ends up actually being, actors in Russia outside of the Russian state or those who have managed to pass themselves off as Russian. The problem with the unknowns is that the information below tends to be “highly likely” and not “absolutely certain” (so keep that in mind). Not everyone who acts on behalf of the Russian state necessarily does so officially, and one should note the sanctions and U.S. actions in Syria (two points of contention between the Obama era and Russia) don’t just affect the Russian state (they also affect some of the most wealthy and powerful people in Russia and one could imagine don’t play well to some political groups in Russia; i.e. not only Putin and his circle have motive, they could have acted indirectly or others could have acted alone). All this said, despite this, I’ll reconfirm, “There is a high degree of certainty that Russia ordered an influence campaign in 2016 to undermine public faith in the US democratic process and the sway the election.”
TIP: The French election was also hacked, Macron’s emails were leaked like Hillary’s. Also a recent malware hack targeted Europe and Russia. Just because official U.S. word is that it is highly probable that Russia ordered an influence campaign doesn’t imply that Russia was the only actor. Likewise, just because some of Trump’s associates had contact with Russia, doesn’t mean there was illegal behavior or that Trump was aware of this. There is only one truth, and getting to the bottom of it is a complex chore fit for agencies like the FBI. All we can do here is report what we do and don’t know based on official declassified documents.
OPINIONS: There is always the chance that the same entity trying to divide the U.S. is trying to put a wedge in-between Russia and America. We DO NOT KNOW, when we don’t know for sure, all we can do is theorize based on the facts. When we theorize based on the facts, we should be clear that this is what we are doing. It would be wise to approach this cautiously, as acting as a “useful idiot” for a divide and conquer strategy meant to destabilize things is obviously ironic and not advisable. When we speak of Trump and Russia or Hillary and the Emails, when we post fake news, or react to a “troll” with vitriol toward our countrymen, we do our opponent a favor and hurt ourselves.
Opinions on Considering Putin’s Side of the Story and Anti-Hillary Propaganda in the West: Putin says the Russian state was not officially involved in the campaign, but he admits that “patriotically minded” private Russian hackers could have been involved in cyberattacks last year that meddled in the United States presidential election. In other words, Putin is confirming that “it is highly likely Russia was involved with the anti-Hillary propaganda campaign” but claims that no illegal activity was done by the state. Ok, well if Russian nationals are supporting Republican nationalists, and RT is putting out a divisive message, this still tells the American citizen they are the victim of an influence campaign (and that “Russia” was involved to some degree; as reported and suspected). Putin also confirms a theory of ours, that perhaps some of this has been another entity trying to make it look like they are Russia (in an effort to divide American’s in yet another way). I personally (opinion here) wouldn’t rule out either of Putin’s claims, but one must also take them with a grain of salt. Where American Nationalist Conservatives and Russian Nationalists involved? Was the Russian state involved? These are the questions being asked. People are assumed innocent until they are proven guilty, but guilt aside, it is very clear that those who support the world’s right-wing populists over liberals like Clinton ran a public influence campaign directed at American and the west. Now how much of this is just “others” exploiting the current and well-known vast right-wing conspiracy in America? Another good question. No one is claiming Russia created Fox News, but it is nice to hear Putin being [perhaps] honest about the tampering in western elections, that means Macron and Putin have so far stepped up to the plate.
“If they are patriotically minded, they start making their contributions — which are right, from their point of view — to the fight against those who say bad things about Russia.” – Putin
What Did Russia Do, What Do We Think Russia Did, and What Do We Think Russia Did Not Do?
Above we covered some main points being discussed in 2017, below we will cover more facts from the official report.
As noted above, people seem to be misunderstanding the subject of Russia and the U.S. elections, thus the point of this page (and this section specifically) is to clarify the actual claims and to point out what isn’t being claimed.
There is no claim that Russia was tampering with elections by tampering with ballots or hacking machines, or that the Russian state was interfering with U.S. electoral process directly in that way.
Instead, an official report (and other official statements) makes a judgement with a high degree of confidence that Russia tried to influence the election.
In summary, it is moderately or highly likely based on the report and a few of my own clearly marked inferences from that report and by studies in general (it is likely, but not certain; judgements made from complex factors dealing with international politics and psychological warfare are notably hard to quantify; this is all based on empirical data, logical judgements, and reasoning… but with complex information like this it is a matter of likelihood):
- Russia been trying to influence U.S. politics to some degree since the Cold War. That should be clear if you think about anything related to Russia / America relations or the Cold War.
- In 2016 Russia Ordered an influence campaign in 2016 to undermine public faith in the US democratic process and the sway the election.
- In 2016 Russia’s main goal was to ensure Clinton did not win, or to undermine faith in Clinton if she did.
- When it looked like Trump might win or could disrupt Clinton, Russia began to back him (OPINION: it is likely they also supported figures like Stein and Bernie for the same reason; they did so on RT publicly and legally, so one must assume this was also done through other means).
- However, there is no evidence Trump colluded with Russia (although, to be fair, there is no evidence that there is no connection between Russia and the Trump campaign, there is no official evidence to suggest collusion).
- The Public influence campaign used legal methods, like Russia Television in the U.S., and also questionable or illegal methods like “troll bots,” leaks to Wikileaks, DNC leaks, and potentially ordering hacks. It could have also involved Hillary’s emails and such, but it is hard to know.
- This process did not involve direct tampering with U.S. elections.
- MY OPINION: One should also note that Russia is generally using complex influence tactics where they can benefit from a number of scenarios. They benefit if we divide, they benefit if we think we have been hacked, they benefit if Trump lifts sanctions, they benefit with no Hillary (as she would have played hardball with Russia in terms of Syria, Crimea, and Sanctions), etc. They are a clever bunch, and they also have a general mentality that goes something like, “fool you once or twice, shame on you both times.” In other words, our reaction to their interference gauges their success, and by that measure we can argue they were successful in many ways.
In other words, a lot did happen, but none of that is evidence that “Hillary would have won, that Trump would have lost, or that Trump colluded (or worked with anyone who did).”
TIP: Sometimes people say (quoting general comments on social media), “well it doesn’t matter, if we improve relations with Russia and get a conservative leader out of it, what is the harm?” Something like that? The harm is free and fair elections devoid of corruption are the ideals underlying liberal democracy. We can have good relations with Russia without letting them poke us with a stick, and we can elect a conservative Republican without leaks.
More Details From the the Office of the Director of National Intelligence Report
Those are the basics of the report, here are the details from the report noted above:
- Russia aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.
- Russia’s approach evolved over the course of the campaign based on Russia’s understanding of the electoral prospects of the two main candidates. When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the election, the Russian influence campaign began to focus more on undermining her future presidency.
- Russia’s intelligence services conducted cyber operations against targets associated with the 2016 US presidential election, including targets associated with both major US political parties.
- That Russian military intelligence used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and DCLeaks.com to release US victim data obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media outlets and relayed material to WikiLeaks (see Wikileaks and DCLeaks).
- Russian intelligence obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple US state or local electoral boards. DHS assesses that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying.
- Russia’s state-run propaganda machine contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences.
- That Russia will apply lessons learned from its Putin-ordered campaign aimed at the US presidential election to future influence efforts worldwide, including against US allies and their election processes.
Other Proofs of Russian Interference and Related Stories
Those findings aside, it has been speculated by officials, who are basing this on data that is classified in part (to add to confusion), that only a major entity from a developed nation could have the tools needed to do this, so that narrows down the suspects.
There are also accusations that the timing of the Wikileaks and their focus on Democrats is purposefully lopsided (thus it is pure speculations that Wikileaks was purposefully aiding Russia, but likely that Wikileaks at least acted as a useful idiot for Russia/Trump; not that any of these three entities directly colluded or even know or like each other).
Considering Motives and Social Tactics (My Opinions)
While all the data is not out yet (as much is classified), the motive is clear (one can reason it based on little more than Russian and American relations since the Cold War, or, in terms of non-foreigners, what their eyes tell them when they watch the media).
One can’t take America or a major party down with a direct hit, so manipulating the frustration Americans feel and using social media to funnel that frustration toward “the establishment” is a simple tactic that anyone can effectively employ to “divide the house.”
In this way, the idea is to indirectly tamper, to make Americans think Russia is involved and question the results, but to keep things so gray-area and confusing no-one really knows for sure.
I am not sure that Democrats and Republicans need much help going for each other’s throats, but of course an obvious tactic is to spur it along (just like when Germany sent Lenin back to Russia when he was exiled there; you don’t interfere directly, you use KGB-style subversion). That is the context, but it is all side points as we don’t know who the actors are for sure in every case. We only know some specifics and that Russia was generally involved.
Conclusions on Hacking and Voter Fraud and Russia
Hacking, like wide-scale fraud, may be suspected, but it is not known.
The real subtext is much clearer than the details.
When we divide as a nation, we weaken ourselves. This is a benefit for our “opponents” whoever they may be and whether they are involved or not.
What we know is that 1. Russia wasn’t accused of voter fraud. 2. We can be confident Russia did however try to influence the election via influence campaigns. 3. Russia included and aside, the general idea is that “others” (especially those with sanctions) benefit from the U.S. being divided and from “establishment politicians” not being in power. 4. There is however no proof of Trump collusion, the story really isn’t’ about that (although later evidence may say otherwise, there is no such evidence made official).
It doesn’t matter if Russia or Assange did or didn’t do anything, and it doesn’t matter if Russia was behind every Hillary email leak; it matters how we react.
When we refuse to accept the results of the election or cry “corruption,” we start down a slippery slope. We begin to act as “useful idiots.”
This isn’t a mandate to hide from truth, it is a mandate to use critical thinking to find deeper truths.
Hacking and foreign public influence campaigns aren’t an issues to be dismissed. This is a time to be critical and to look hard to spot different types of truth without forgetting all Americans have a responsibility to safeguard our nation from any attempts to disrupt our political process, foreign or domestic.