, 11 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
In this thread, @SimonWDC rejects the "sowing discord" label for Russian activity. I believe he is both right and wrong to do so.

I agree that the Trump admin can't admit that Russia wanted Trump to win, but that was only a tactical goal in a longer war.
Part of the problem here is that all Russian activity is lumped together and assumed to be part of a well-coordinated operation. In reality, it looks like there were three lanes of Russian interference with minimal coordination between the two most visible components.
The three lanes of Russian election interference:

1) Social media trolling
2) GRU hack-and-leak
3) Direct attacks against election infrastructure
The trolling campaign, most notably by the private RIRA, is accurately described as "sowing discord". This campaign started well before Donald Trump was a possible candidate and continued after his election with the stirring up of vulnerable groups on "both sides".
The vast majority of RIRA activity found by the social media companies was not targeted at the campaign. The analyses of the datasets provided to the Senate Intel committee are more helpful to understand this fact than the Mueller report: cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/4326998/…
The second lane, the GRU hack-and-leak campaign, was much better planned, professionally designed and aimed straight at the heart of the Clinton campaign. This was not "sowing discord", this was a professional attempt to assist the Trump campaign.
The GRU's offensive operations, manipulation of the media and selective leaking were successful in influencing the attitudes of many voters toward Clinton. Kathleen Hall Jamieson has the best quantitative study of their impact:
The third lane was direct attacks against election infrastructure. We, the citizenry, know the least about this area of attack and some of what we do know is only due to a brave leaker. The official silence on this topic is worrying and unhelpful.
My theory: the intrusions into election systems would have been used to cast a victory by Clinton into doubt and perhaps to trigger a constitutional crisis. Obviously, that wasn't needed once Trump won.
Personally, I expect that the Russian operatives behind this campaign were expecting a Clinton victory, and were planning on weakening her presidency out of the gate. I find it unlikely that GRU/SVR have better insight into polling trends than @NateSilver538.
So I disagree that "sow discord" is a phrase that can't be used, but I agree that a clear-eyed understanding of the GRU's desire to help Trump is necessary to prepare for 2020. Fortunately, the people on the ground in FBI/DHS I have met understand that, even if Trump doesn't.
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