July 17, 2018

This tweet flickered across my timeline last night:

…and had me tossing and turning, for obvious reasons. and then this morning I learned more:

WASHINGTON — A Russian gun-rights activist who developed close relations with leaders of the National Rifle Association as well as conservative activists working with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was arraigned Monday on charges she conspired to influence American politics on behalf of the Russian government.

Maria Butina, 29, who founded the Russian gun group “The Right to Bear Arms” and worked as the executive assistant to a top official of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, was arrested Sunday by the FBI in Washington, D.C., where she had been living. The charges allege that she visited the United States in 2015 and 2016 for the purposes of acting “as an agent” of the Russia, according to a criminal complaint released by the U.S. Justice Department on Monday afternoon, a few hours after President Trump and Russian President Putin met in Helsinki. Butina conspired to “exploit personal connections” with U.S. political figures and to “infiltrate organizations active in U.S. politics” and establish “back channel lines of communication” in an effort to advance Russian government interests, the complaint charges.

The article continues:

“Chief among the groups Butina and her boss, Russian central banker Alexander Torshin, sought to infiltrate was the NRA. Torshin became a lifetime member of the group, and he and Butina regularly attended the association’s annual meetings, held private dinners with the group’s leaders and joined them for target shooting.”

Torshin, that name sounds familliar…

“Butina and Torshin’s efforts to forge relations with GOP candidates, including Trump, continued throughout the 2016 campaign. Paul Erickson, a GOP consultant based in South Dakota who helped Butina set up a limited liability company in that state, emailed a senior official in the Trump campaign – under the subject line “Kremlin connection” — offering to serve as a “backchannel” between the Trump campaign and Putin. He proposed setting up a meeting among Trump, Butina and Torshin at that year’s NRA convention in Louisville, Ky. The meeting never took place but Torshin did meet with Donald Trump Jr. at a private dinner at the convention.”

Oh, that’s right, he’s one of Putin’s money launderers. So we now have a guy who’s good at laundering money donated to the NRA, who in turn became a YUGE donor to Comrade Traitor in the 2016 Goat Rodeo. Anyone else remember this?

This is going to be interesting: we now have the NRA, a Russian spy and Russian mob boss who is friends with Pooty-poot coming into the story. And as far as I can tell this new development is not (yet) part of the Mueller investigation.

crossposted from Mock Paper Scissors

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