Everyone loves a bargain, and apparently Russian President Vladimir Putin is no different. After reportedly spending less than a half-million dollars to influence the 2016 president election, Putin has achieved precisely what he wanted, officials say - the destabilization of American democracy and no more Hillary Clinton.
The Kremlin views its influence campaign, which it called an "active measures" operation, as a remarkable return on investment, U.S. officials briefed on post-election intelligence told The Washington Post. Not only did it shake up Americans' faith in their democratic process, but the operation also achieved Putin's primary goal of stymying Clinton's White House aspirations, one official told the newspaper.
The CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies have reported that Russia's goal in meddling was "undermining the public's trust in the election process."
“Putin has to believe this was the most successful intelligence operation in the history of Russian or Soviet intelligence,” Andrew Weiss, a former adviser on Russia in the George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations, told the Post. “It has driven the American political system into a crisis that will last years.”