Russia’s desired outcome in the months before Donald Trump’s election in 2016 was not simply to see him elected. It aimed, instead, to more broadly “undermine the US-led liberal democratic order” (in the words of a January 2017 intelligence assessment), an effort that Russia believed would be aided far more by Trump’s election than Hillary Clinton’s.
This overlapped with its desire to “provoke and amplify political and social discord in the United States” (in the words of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III), leading it to weigh in not only on electoral politics but cultural fights — investing in amplifying and exacerbating contentious social debates.
That desired outcome has seen some significant success.
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