One Thousand Russian Trolls Helped Elect Trump

Buried at the bottom of this story about FBI Director James Comey's briefing to Senators yesterday is this amazing fact:

Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Intelligence committee, did not answer questions about the focus of the Comey briefing Friday. But he did talk about the extent of the investigation he is building with Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr. 

"What we are trying to do -- and I give Richard (Burr) a lot of credit -- is to not have this devolve into a partisan food fight that doesn't serve the public purpose. This is so important that we get it right," Warner said. "But the amount of manipulation, why there's not more outrage about the fact there were close to 1,000 Russian internet trolls, actual people, working trying to manipulate our news."

This is nothing new to Western leaders, by the way--it was on CNN in September of 2015:

An army of Internet trolls is using cyberspace to promote Russia and wage war against opposition groups and the West.

A former employee of the Internet Research Agency, Lyudmila Savchuk, has offered a rare glimpse inside the propaganda machine where young people were paid to praise President Vladimir Putin and his government. 

Savchuk, 34, who runs a Russian group that campaigns against propaganda, said she went undercover to "unveil the trolls and make them show themselves." 

The freelance journalist told CNN she accepted a job with the agency as a blogger, and then filed a lawsuit over its employment practices to shed light on the shadowy organization. 

The Russian government had denied all knowledge of the operation, and cast doubt on its existence. But a court last month awarded Savchuk symbolic damages of one ruble in recognition of the legal claims she made.

Why is this being briefed by the FBI Director now? Shouldn't we have known about this before the 2016 primaries even began? And since Trump was an announced candidate in the fall of 2015, why didn't anyone connect the dots on his campaign's Russian connections earlier? It would seem to me that this was a missed opportunity to provide some basic level of protection for American democracy. At the very least, it should have been the FBI's responsibility to warn people that the Russians were actively engaged in trying to throw the election while, at the same time, having multiple connections to the Trump campaign for months and months.

Russia had this massive online manipulation program up and running long before the 2016 election and no one in our government did anything to warn anyone. Amazing.