There are three problems with this line. The first is that it absolves Democrats of their own mistakes. Mr Putin did indeed throw all the bots and trolls he could muster against Mrs Clinton’s campaign. Moscow also helped hack and leak the email accounts of key figures in Mrs Clinton’s orbit. But to conclude that Russia threw the election is a stretch.
There are any number of reasons Mr Trump scraped the 77,000 margin in the three key Midwestern states that clinched him the electoral college. Jill Stein, the Green party candidate, was one of them. She received more votes in Wisconsin and Michigan than Mr Trump’s winning tally. Mrs Clinton’s refusal to campaign in Wisconsin was another. The former FBI director James Comey’s last-minute bombshell about reopening the investigation into Mrs Clinton’s emails was a third. And so on. None of these explain why Mr Trump’s support came within distance of victory in the first place.
Mr Putin is an opportunist who wishes to tarnish the west. But America was already doing that by itself. He was only throwing paraffin on to the fire. The market for fake news predated Mr Putin. As the UK’s Sun newspaper would say: it was the west wot lost it.