Russia may have hacked and influenced the 2016 American presidential election — as most US intelligence agencies believe — but there is a major misunderstanding about what it is the Russians were trying to accomplish, according to former FBI director James Comey and others. Comey said back in March that when it came to Russian hacking, “it’s almost as if they didn’t care if we knew.” Comey continued to tell the House Intelligence Committee that one purpose of Russian hacking was to create chaos and distrust — to taint the election no matter who won — so that the American political system seemed jeopardized and compromised. That perception could occur no matter which candidate won.
If Hillary Clinton had won, the same accusations about Russian tampering with the election would rise — even if collusion seems a less likely storyline in the event of a Clinton victory. Comey said the Russians were “counting on us to amplify it by telling the American people what we saw and freaking people out about how the Russians might be undermining our elections.” Russia evidently wanted the election results to be considered untrustworthy, no matter who won. That’s how you undermine a democracy.