The great irony of the 2016 US presidential election is that after all the talk from Donald Trump of it being rigged, when it was all said and done, it’s the Democrats who end up feeling like the election was stolen. Now it seems that behind the scenes the Obama administration wrestled with how to respond to Russian meddling, but continually came up with reasons not to.

By the time fall had come, Americans had begun to drown in the slow dripping of documents released by Wikileaks, but their focus entirely on Democrats had only proved what the intelligence community already knew: the Russians were trying to influence the election in favor of Donald Trump. In June, hackers released an opposition file Democrats had on Trump and a month later US intelligence was sure hackers working for the Russian government had breached the Democratic National Committee. The US and other countries routinely use hacking to spy on each other, but attempting to influence an election was deemed a step too far.

During this time period, the White House met with national security officials in order come up with a suitable response. The fear was that with much of the US economy and infrastructure dependent on the internet, it had far more to lose if the US pushed Russia into a broader cyberwar.

Hanging over this decision was also the on again off again Russian talks over Syria and the fear of giving Trump more reason to doubt the legitimacy of a Clinton victory, which the Obama Administration believed to be a foregone conclusion. The White House denies these allegations to be to true, citing their slow response had more to do with the law enforcement and intelligence agencies doing their due diligence, but that may be cold comfort to Democrats.

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