United States intelligence officials themselves have voiced suspicions that Russia intended to be caught. “They were unusually loud in their intervention,” James Comey, the former F.B.I. director, told Congress at a hearing last March. “It’s almost as if they didn’t care that we knew.” Wade into any online political discussion, where the conversation-ending accusation “Russian bot!” has become a commonplace, and it’s hard to deny that it’s worked.
.. No less than our “meddling” in their internal elections, Russia has long resented United States criticism of the country’s repressive approach to online speech. Their use of online platforms to tamper with our presidential race reads not only as an attack, but as an implicit argument: “The freedoms you trumpet so loudly, your unwillingness to regulate political speech on the internet, your tolerance for anonymity — all these are weaknesses, which we’ll prove by exploiting them.”