The plot to subvert the US election

Suspected spies, hacked e-mails, social media fraud designed to inflame voters with provocative messages. For two years, Americans have tried to absorb the details of the attacks, traced to Russia and aimed at influencing the outcome of the 2016 presidential race. Its winner Donald Trump claims that it's all a hoax. A close-up look at what is known so far.

Posters of those who have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election being displayed during a House committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 12 this year
Posters of those who have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election being displayed during a House committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 12 this year.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
President Donald Trump has formed the view that US law enforcement agencies had been aligned against him from the beginning - ammunition for a looming war with the "deep state".
President Donald Trump has formed the view that US law enforcement agencies had been aligned against him from the beginning – ammunition for a looming war with the “deep state”.PHOTO: REUTERS

On an October afternoon before the 2016 election, a huge banner was unfurled from the Manhattan Bridge in New York City: President Vladimir Putin against a Russian-flag background, and the unlikely word "Peacemaker" below. It was a daredevil happy birthday to the Russian leader, who was turning 64.

In November, shortly after Mr Donald Trump eked out a victory that Moscow had worked to assist, an even bigger banner appeared, this time on the Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington: the face of President Barack Obama and "Goodbye Murderer" in big red letters.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 23, 2018, with the headline 'The plot to subvert the US election'. Subscribe