Russia and the U.S. Election: What We Know and Don’t Know
The swirl of revelations and allegations about Russian involvement in the American presidential election, which has been building since the summer, can be difficult to keep straight.
For example, though analysts often say that Russia “hacked the election,” this shorthand refers to something much subtler than altering the vote itself — just one of many points of growing confusion. Here is a guide to what is known and is not, and to separating fact from misconception.
What was Russia’s role in the election?
• Russian security agencies infiltrated Democratic National Committee email servers last year and again this spring, according to American intelligence assessments and several independent security firms. The Russians also hacked a private email account belonging to John D. Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
· 根据美国情报机构的评估和几家独立安全公司的说法，俄罗斯安全机构渗透入民主党全国委员会的电子邮件服务器之中。俄罗斯人还入侵了希拉里·克林顿(Hillary Clinton)的竞选团队主席约翰·D·波德斯塔(John D. Podesta)的私人电子邮件帐户。
• This summer, intermediaries linked to the Russian government passed the emails to WikiLeaks and to an anonymous WordPress blog called Guccifer 2.0. Those outlets released the emails publicly, generating weeks of unfavorable coverage of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.
· 今年夏天，与俄罗斯政府有关的中间人将这些电子邮件传递给维基解密(WikiLeaks)和一个名为Guccifer 2.0的匿名WordPress博客。这几个渠道公开了相关电子邮件，导致了持续几个星期对克林顿竞选活动不利的报道。
• Initially, many analysts believed that Russia’s goal was to sow confusion and undermine Americans’ faith in their government — a common Russian tactic — rather than to steer the election’s outcome.
• However, after the election, the Central Intelligence Agency concluded that Russia had released the emails with the primary goal of bolstering Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign.
· 然而，在选举之后，中央情报局得出结论，俄罗斯公布这些电子邮件，主要目标是支持唐纳德·J·特朗普(Donald J. Trump)的总统竞选。
• No information has emerged suggesting that the C.I.A. believes that Russia’s involvement decided the election’s outcome.
Was the election itself hacked?
• There is no evidence that hackers, from Russia or elsewhere, tampered with the vote tallies.
• Mr. Trump has said there was widespread voter fraud that favored Mrs. Clinton, and some liberal commentators have suggested that the election was hacked. Independent analysts say there is overwhelming evidence against both claims.
• A widely circulated New York magazine article reported that two voting experts had urged Democrats to push for a recount, on fears that hackers had manipulated the vote. But one of those experts disputed that article, writing in a post on Medium that he had urged a recount but had doubted hacking.
• The White House and election officials have said the vote shows no sign of tampering and accurately reflects popular will.
• A recount effort led by the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, is unrelated to the revelations that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and Mr. Podesta’s emails.
· 由绿党候选人吉尔·斯坦(Jill Stein)领导的重新计票工作与俄罗斯黑客入侵民主党全国委员会及波德斯塔的电子邮件遭披露无关。
Did Russia swing the election for Mr. Trump?
• It is impossible to say for sure. Because the email leaks unfolded over weeks, and concurrently with many other election dramas, polls cannot easily isolate the impact of the leaks.
• Mr. Trump won three crucial Midwestern states by very small margins. So even if the leaks swung only a small percentage of votes, that could have been enough to change the election outcome.
• But this same logic applies to dozens of factors, including the F.B.I.’s late-stage investigations related to Mrs. Clinton’s private email server. Political scientists have demonstrated that even changes in weather and the performance of sports teams can alter how people vote.
• All available evidence suggests that voters freely selected Mr. Trump on Election Day in sufficient numbers for him to win the presidency under the Electoral College system. But that does not diminish the seriousness of Russia’s intervention in the election, which appears to be unprecedented.
• The C.I.A.’s assessment is not public, but is thought to turn on another alleged hack. Russia also hacked data from the Republican National Committee but declined to release whatever it found, intelligence agencies told Congress. That has given credence to theories that Moscow actively favored the party’s candidate.
• Mr. Trump has repeatedly promised to realign the United States with Russia and has praised its president, Vladimir V. Putin. Many in Moscow view Mrs. Clinton as hostile to Russia.
· 特朗普一再承诺美俄重新结盟，并称赞俄罗斯总统弗拉基米尔·V·普京(Vladimir V. Putin)。在莫斯科，许多人认为克林顿对俄罗斯抱有敌意。
• The evidence in any assessment of Russian government motives is circumstantial, and not all American intelligence agencies share the C.I.A.’s view.
• The timing suggests that, if Moscow decided to help Mr. Trump, it did so only after hacking the servers of both parties’ national committees. Both were infiltrated well before Mr. Trump’s rise.
· 莫斯科选择的时机表明，如果它的确决定帮助特朗普， 也是在黑客入侵两党全国委员会的服务器之后才这样做。在特朗普崛起之前，两党的服务器就都遭到了渗透。
• Mr. Trump, at a July news conference, publicly urged Russia to hack Mrs. Clinton’s emails. But this could not have precipitated or encouraged the Russian hacks — they had taken place months earlier.
Did Russia spread pro-Trump fake news?
• Russian state media outlets have favored Mr. Trump and opposed Mrs. Clinton, but their reach in the United States is limited. (Their influence in Europe is much stronger.)
• A firm called PropOrNot claimed that the Russian government had flooded American social media with fake election news. But several independent analysts challenged the report’s methodology, which classified mainstream sites as Russian propaganda and did not demonstrate a link to Moscow.
• Fake news is a growing problem, at times driven by companies in Eastern Europe that write and spread the articles. But those companies appear to be motivated by profit-seeking rather than any political agenda.
What was Russia’s goal in meddling?
• There are two schools of thought: first, that Russia sought to weaken the United States by stirring up uncertainty and miring Mrs. Clinton, who seemed all but certain to win, in scandal; and second, that Russia sought specifically to elevate Mr. Trump to the presidency.
• Those theories are not mutually exclusive. For instance, Moscow may have started with the first goal and then added the second as a hoped-for bonus.
• Russia is waging similar campaigns across Europe, at times through cyberattacks and selective leaks, with the apparent goal of undermining Western unity.
• The Kremlin sees itself as under siege by a hostile West that it perceives as bent on Russia’s destruction. Russian military leaders advocate shadowy “new generation warfare” — through propaganda and cyberattacks, for example — to destabilize adversaries from within.
• Not all misconceptions are directed by Moscow, however. Social media rumors that overstate Russia’s involvement in the United States election risk playing into Moscow’s goal of undermining Americans’ faith in the legitimacy and integrity of their democracy.