With the sanctions against Russia, the U.S. government is admitting that if there was Russian meddling in the election, it is not out of the question that votes were influenced by it.

In a little more than a half a year, the Americans will elect a new Congress. And the government does not want a repeat of 2016 when Russian internet trolls made every effort – with some success – to divide the American people and manipulate the presidential election. The new sanctions that Washington has just imposed are therefore a punishment for 2016 and a warning for 2018.

In addition, they are an admission. Washington is officially admitting what many Republicans are still denying, among them occasionally the president himself. If it’s the government’s opinion now that there was Russian meddling in the election, we cannot rule out that votes were influenced by it, thereby at least casting a shadow on the legitimacy of Trump’s election.

To escape this logic, Trump’s allies have been twisting the known facts in the most bizarre manner; they chip away at and demonize their own intelligence services; they babble about the “deep state” that allegedly wants to overthrow Trump. They continue the work that Russian President Vladimir Putin began.

But it is just not that easy to escape the truth. There are still enough people in Washington who see exactly what Moscow is doing and would rather defend America’s democracy than Trump’s reputation.