WASHINGTON – The American military took a Russian troll cargo last night Election Day in a cyberattack that continued for several days after the vote, part of what United States officials have said is a persistent campaign to block and interference in American democracy.
The operation was intended to prevent the Internet Research Agency, based in St. Petersburg, Russia, from spreading propaganda or disinformation aimed at undermining confidence in the mid-term vote of the election, American officials said.
The operation was aimed at taking the Internet Research Agency off line for several days, from Election Day until the results were certified by local officials.
Intelligence agencies considered that the Russian trolls that create and spread disinformation in the United States and Europe were likely to
Election Day operations were part of a larger campaign led by United States Cyber Command and the National Security Agency to secure the midterm vote. Those operations started with a campaign of direct messages sent to Russian operatives who had created disinformation and propaganda aimed at sowing dissent and undermining confidence in American voting systems. Those direct messages were aimed at deterring the creators of propaganda.
The Election Day operation, reported Tuesday by The Washington Post, was conducted under the authority of the White House. The new authorities, officials said, have sped up decision making, making bureaucratic issues not possible in the way of taking action.  Intelligence officials have said it is difficult, if not impossible, to use cyberoperations to take an adversary off line permanently. Cyberweapons typically exploit unpatched vulnerabilities in software. Given time, the target of an operation can find workarounds or fix software problems, restoring its internet connectivity or computer operations.
Joseph R. Holstead, deputy director of Cyber Command public affairs, said the military did not "discuss classified cyberspace planning and operations."
"US Cyber Command will continue to work as part of the whole-of-government effort to defend our elections and democratic institutions from foreign malignation, ”Mr. Holstead said
After the election, under another White House executive order, the director of national intelligence conducted an analysis of foreign interference during the midterm election.
That report, which has not been made public, found that the Russians attempted to interfere in the vote, not by trying to hack voting machines but by spreading disinformation. The report found that Russia used social media, fake personas and Moscow-controlled media to inflame opposite ideological sites with an aim of further polarizing the United States.
On Capitol Hill, intelligence committee officials declined to discuss the Election Day cyber operation. 19659002] At the hearing of the rise of authoritarianism in Russia, China and elsewhere, representative Adam B. Schiff, the California Democrat who leads the House Intelligence Committee, said Russian efforts to interfere in elections were continuing.
a prioritized part of the Russian agenda to not just interfere in our democracy but interfere in democracies in Europe, "Mr. Schiff said. “They are pushing their authoritarian model to undermine institutions that reinforce democracy.”