Friday, August 10, 2018

From Russia to the NRA with love

I promised an entry on Russian infiltration of the NRA that I promised at the end of WUSA and CNN report on likely Russian election interference and the Administration's conflicted response, a pledge I repeated in Pence on Space Force plus space law from Vintage Space, a Veep Day bonus.  It's time for me to follow through, bringing my readers who haven't been following the story up to speed and allowing me to say that I keep my promises.

I begin the narrative with ABC News reporting Russian activist linked to NRA arrested on July 17, 2018.

FBI counterintelligence agents arrested Maria Butina, 29, on charges she acted as a Kremlin agent while working to build relationships with National Rifle Association officials.
That was just the beginning.  Nearly two weeks later, Michael Isikoff told Chuck Todd that "Maria Butina 'Kept Showing Up' At GOP Events" on Meet The Press.

Michael Isikoff, Chief Investigative Correspondent for Yahoo! News, joins Meet the Press for an exclusive interview to talk about his latest reporting on Mariia Butina and the NRA.
The story just gets juicier.  Butina reminds me of a less pretty but more successful version of Anna Chapman.  I've never invoked Mata Hari here, but now is the time, as Butina appears to both a seductress and a foreign agent, if not really a spy.*  Speaking of which, I'm glad that Isakoff has tied this story to the greater one of Putin's hackers and agents weaponizing social media and phishing the DNC.

The story continued to develop last week as CNN reported WaPo: Trump associate interacted with alleged Russian spy.

Maria Butina, the Russian national charged with conspiracy to act as an agent of Russia within the US, interacted with a former Trump campaign aide in the run-up to the 2016 election, according to The Washington Post.
Again, more of Butina being Mata Hari to infiltrate not just the NRA, but also the Trump Adminstration.  As George Takei would say, oh, my, not that Trump and Putin's Bad Bromance needs that much help.†

Since I can't be all DOOM all the time, I have some lighter commentary on the story over the jump.

Jimmy Kimmel had some fun with the story on his show when he asked NRA Infiltrated by Russians?

The Department of Justice announced that a Russian national was arrested and charged on Sunday with 'conspiracy to act as an agent of the Russian Federation in the United States.' Her name is Maria Butina. She worked very successfully to infiltrate American political organizations and influence our politicians. One of her alleged missions was to set up a line of communication between Russia and Republicans via her contacts in the National Rifle Association. The FBI is investigating whether the NRA took money from the Russians. While the investigation into whether the Russians infiltrated the NRA is still ongoing, this ad from September of 2016 seems just a little bit suspicious.
Ha, ha, ha, ha!  Not only was the skit funny, the video description was more informative than any of the news clips.

For more humor, I'm sharing a comment I left on Trouble in Paradise for the NRA? at Booman Tribune.  This was about a related story, the problems the NRA is having with its gun owner's insurance.  I wrote "I have just the drink to toast this turn of events, Russian Spy Horseradish-Infused Vodka."

Marina Butina, the alleged Russian spy that infiltrated the NRA loves horseradish-infused vodka. We decided to give it a try!
My comment was "I agree with Skyy; this drink is an expression of toughness, not of taste.  It's like G. Gordon Liddy putting his hand over a candle flame to show his tolerance for pain."  It turns out that Skyy probably didn't prepare it properly; the correct way is probably more palatable.

*That's probably because Mata Hari was one of my ex-girlfriend's nicknames, so I would not be inclined to use it lightly.

Marcy Wheeler at Empty Wheel made fun of Butina and JD Gordon going to a Styx concert by embedding a video of The Grand Illusion.

She later regretted it, but I think it was still an appropriate musical choice.


  1. Thanks for the clips. I love the idea that Butina was running a pro-gun organization in Russia, but is also close to all the oligarchs around Putin. Sure, that makes perfect sense.

    1. You're welcome! Yeah, it doesn't make sense if one looks closely, but on the surface it probably was what the NRA members wanted to believe. Also, thanks for stopping by!