Of course the Russians tried to influence the US presidential election. The shocking thing is that they found it so simple
Most of the coverage of the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has concentrated on who did it, and for whose benefit. But there is a sense in which this was not news. Anyone who has paid attention to the story, which has been hard to avoid, already believes that the Russians did what they could to get Donald Trump elected.
The detail of what was done has been less examined. The 37 pages of Robert Mueller’s indictment contain a meticulous account of the workings of a really professional propaganda or lobbying organisation. The “Internet Research Agency” in St Petersburg is more generally known as the Russian “troll factory”, but it spent its multimillion-dollar budget on much more than simple trolling. Women operatives were sent around the US to gather intelligence and to make contact with social and political activists. It was from American political activists that they received the advice to target “purple” swing states, something that was essential to the ultimate success of the campaign.