At this point anyone who thinks that Russia stole the election from Hillary Clinton is hopelessly naive. Russia didn’t “meddle” to get a particular outcome in terms of a candidate they wanted in power, Russia meddled to raise internal discord and tension.
The fact that the Democrats have been going on and on about “Russia collusion” is only making the Russians more successful than they’d ever dreamed they’d be.
This article doesn’t address any of the above, but it does accurately say that the Russians heavily targeted race relations (they also target class warfare, but historically focus on race or ethnicity). https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/05/11/what-we-found-facebook-ads-russians-accused-election-meddling/602319002/
But….where they successful in increasing internal discord inside the United States? Yes. Is that illegal? No. No it is not, and exploiting rules like that is suspiciously right out of Alinksy’s “Rules for Radicals” to “make them live up to their own ideals.” By indicting Russian add agencies in Federal Court, Russia can easily point out that there is no longer “rule of law” in the United States. Or they could say that it’s just “Russophobia” or any of the other longstanding propaganda lines of effort they’ve been nurturing for years.
The USA Today article mentions a “10% success rate” which is a purely hypothetical number for the purpose of illustrating that the Russians don’t need to hit gold with every meme, only get lucky enough that they can “pump up the volume” so that they strike gold regularly enough to get their message in front of as many eyes as possible. Trust me that their “success rate” is closer to 1% to 3%, but when you are pushing out hundreds of messages, memes, and spun news stories constantly, that’s good enough.
So why do I say that the Russians didn’t do anything we didn’t already want to do? Because that is how influence operations work. Advertising agencies know you are already going to buy food, so they work to associate their foods with something else, like sex, success, sex, wealth, sex, satisfaction, or sex. They do this to influence you to buy a product that you were already inclined to buy, the only thing they can influence is your brand choices. You were going to be engaged in American politics to some degree, you were going to prefer one set of political ideals over another to some degree, all Russia had to do was give you information that confirmed your biases or your fears. This is why Russian propaganda is pro and anti Republican, pro and anti Democrat, pro traditional values at the same time they are pro progressive ideals. They don’t stand for anything themselves except the interest of Russia, and it is in the interest of Russia to have a divided United States.
The Mueller investigation, rather than being a source of clarity, has devolved firmly into partisan politics which is why the investigation itself is accomplishing the goals of Russia. That is why Russia hired attorneys to fight Mueller in court, because it serves Russia’s interest to show the truth about Mueller’s investigation on the world stage. If it didn’t, they wouldn’t.
Russians…play chess. And in chess it doesn’t matter how many pieces you lose as long as you achieve “checkmate.” These information operations, “gray zone” operations, are all just an amazing resource of sacrificial pawns for Putin to advance his goal towards a resurgent Russia that the world takes seriously.