What the Russians did, according to a leading international political consultant, was create a blueprint for 21st-century subversion that is now being mimicked by spin doctors and elusive digital data firms to sow chaos in elections wherever they can.
Vlad's Vengeance: Inside Putin's 'hybrid warfare' on the U.S.
This is an occasional series examining Russian President Vladimir Putin's motives and actions as tensions in U.S.-Russia relations heighten.
That so much of Mikhail Lesin's death remains unexplained more than two years later underscores the deep confusion in Washington over what American spies knew and didn't know about the depths of Russian subversion activities in 2015 and, more broadly, whether Moscow's subsequent election-meddling exposed a major hole in American intelligence.
Fourteen days before President Trump took the oath of office, the Obama administration's intelligence chiefs made public a unanimous assessment claiming Russian operatives, under orders from President Vladimir Putin, had orchestrated an influence campaign to help Mr. Trump win the presidential contest.
In interview after interview with top U.S. intelligence officials and foreign diplomats about the downward spiral in U.S.-Russian relations, one date keeps resurfacing: January 2012.