Back in September 2016, John Davidson wrote this in The Federalist
Like many of America’s political and media elites, she [Hillary] still doesn’t understand the game Russia is playing, or that the purpose of Moscow’s meddling isn’t to elect Trump but to undermine America’s faith in elections.
Vladimir Putin himself spelled it out in a recent interview with Bloomberg News. He denied that Russia had anything to do with the recent cyber-attacks on the Democratic National Convention (DNC) and the Clinton campaign. Then he said, “Does it even matter who hacked this data from the campaign headquarters of Mrs. Clinton? Is that really important? The important thing is the content that was given to the public.”
Set aside the irony of a strongman like Putin singing the praises of transparency. The important thing, from Russia’s perspective, is that emails and information Clinton and the Democratic Party wanted to keep private were released to the world. Some of those emails were embarrassing, and even led to the resignation of Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz on the eve of her party’s convention in July.
But that was not the purpose of releasing them, any more than Russia’s broader influence operations are meant to deny Clinton the White House. The operations serve a far greater goal: to make democracy itself look bad, and to make American democracy in particular look like a sham.
This was before the election, when Hillary was a sure winner and the only question was how badly Trump would be defeated.
But Trump won, and Democrats used the leaks as an excuse to blame the Russian for stealing the election that was rightfully theirs.
The American intelligence community appears to share the unanimous opinion that the Russians tried to influence the election. And, of course, they focused on Trump and desperately tried to find out how he colluded with the Russian. The only problem is that they couldn't because he didn't.
So what were the Russian up to and did they have political allies in the US? Was there collusion, and if so, who colluded with who?
If I were Putin and wanted to appoint the next American President, it wouldn't be Trump. Trump is for a stronger military, more energy production and an America First policy. Hillary promised a continuation of Obama policies: a weaker military, "leading from behind," reduced energy production and a deal with Iran. Objectively, Hillary would be Putin's preferred President. Her policies would benefit a resurgent Russian military whose economy depends primary on oil and gas production.
And Russians can read the polls at least as well as Democrats. They were also expecting a Hillary presidency. So what were they up to?
The Russians are playing a long game and interfering in the US elections it appears increasingly likely that Washington politicos are focused on the wrong target. The Russians were not trying to get Trump elected; that was unlikely and not even in their interest. It's now obvious to everyone with an ounce of common sense that there was no “collusion” between Putin and the Trump team leading up to the election. That was a story concocted by Hillary’s campaign to explain her humiliating loss and a way for Democrats to undermine the Trump administration.
But the Russians may well have made, and continue to make, an effort to interfere with the American election and the political system. Thanks to a rabid press, a huge number of Americans, a large portion of the Democrat Party, believe that the election was stolen. What’s more, they distrust the American electoral system. For them, elections are invalid unless their side wins.
Elections are the critical bedrock of a functioning republic. It’s the way political power passes from one party to another without violence. It allows the peaceful transition of power on the understanding that another election could change the results. It’s assumed that the passage of political power from one party to another is the legitimate expression of the people. Once that assumption is denied, factions replace each other using threats and physical violence. As Mao said of dictatorships: “political power comes from the barrel of a gun.”
Which brings me to Russian meddling. Was there collusion? If so, question who colluded with Putin to create chaos in the American electoral system? Who is busy delegitimatizing a duly elected President? Who is busy hacking the election?
Robert Mueller has a job ahead of him if he takes his mandate seriously. The press is certainly part of the attempt to overturn the election. So is that part of government referred to as "The Deep State." Other suspects are certain members of the Intelligence community, segments of the Justice Department and leading members of the Democrat party. Who in these factions has been in touch with agents of the Russian government? Are any on Putin’s payroll or are they volunteers? Are they willing agents or simply dupes?
I have been opposed to an investigation into Russian meddling since it was obviously just a way of overturning Trump’s election. Now it’s worth looking at alternative Russian motives, alternative Russian objectives and alternative Russian agents.