The NRA and Alleged Russian Operative Maria Butina

The NRA has been in the news repeatedly in connection with the Mueller probe of U.S. ties to Russian operatives. Back in April, Rolling Stone published a lengthy article by Tim Dickinson which detailed the efforts of Russian nationals connected to Vladimir Putin to infiltrate the NRA under the guise of supporting gun rights in Russia. A key event reported in that article was a trip to Russia arranged for NRA executives and donors and accompanied by Maria Butina, recently indicted by the Justice department for conspiracy and acting as a foreign agent.  From Tim Dickinson’s Twitter feed, here is photo of Butina and two NRA leaders in Moscow.

Read the affidavit and the complaint.

To read Tim Dickinson’s Twitter thread on Butina’s Republican contacts, click here.

Maria Butina Got Around

According to the indictment documents, Butina cultivated relationships within Republican party, the NRA, the National Prayer Breakfast, and other Christian right circles (including Eric Metaxas) in order to further the political ends of the Russian government.

In April, the NRA admitted receiving donations from Russians but denied any foreign money went to election ads for Trump. Butina’s indictment has raised new suspicions about why the NRA developed such a friendly relationship with an adversary of the U.S. And then just today, a new filing in federal court alleges that Butina was in a cohabitation relationship with Republican operative with close ties to the NRA (identified by the Rolling Stone and other news outlets as possibly Paul Erickson) as a part of her cover.

President Trump has denied any collusion with the Russian government. However, this indictment and others recently filed paint a picture of relentless activity on the part of the Russian government to infiltrate organizations friendly to Trump and his wing of the Republican party.

I have leaned conservative all my life and I can’t imagine trusting Russians who want to get this close to political power in the U.S. Once upon a time, it was progressives who were accused of being duped by the Russians. Now it appears that Trump Republicans have a special gullibility.

Read Today’s Filing Asking the Court to Prevent Butina’s Flight

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UPDATE (8/1/18) – An earlier version of this article referred to a possible connection to BN Media and Joe Gregory. I learned today from Joe Gregory’s attorney that Gregory sold his interest in BN Media in 2013 and therefore has no involvement with BN Media. I regret the misinformation and apologize to Mr. Gregory for any problem this may have caused. I have corrected this post to reflect this new information.